Saturday, July 21, 2007

It Must Be Prime Time - Artscape 2007

Artscape 2007

Today had to be one of the most beautiful days of 2007 in Baltimore. The weather was cool, breezy and about 85 degrees. No humidity. Absolutely perfect.

It's also prime shave ice weather.

After eight years in the shave ice business I've come to realize the ideal weather. Dip down into the 70s and it starts to be a bit chilly for shave ice. Reach up into the 90s and humidity and people just don't want to leave their air conditioning at home. But right in the middle is where everyone and their mother (including mine) come out to play and eat shave ice.

After six years of Artscape, it's never this nice. Usually it's on the hot and humid side. Perhaps not as bad as the Dog Days of Summer, but close. Sometimes, we'll have passing showers and even the odd thunderstorm (that was exciting).

Four shavers, four crew, myself and mom. Pounding it out in the hot sun in front of hundreds of thousands of attendees, cranking out well over a thousand shave ices in just over eight hours. Grueling. Tough.

On the front line were two Jay's Shave Ice alumni. Sara (2005 Seasonal Manager) and Derrick (2006 Season staffer) rocked the front line, taking orders, fielding questions and putting on a friendly and hospitable face for the company. All by herself on the third line to the side of the booth was mom - holding her own in a never-ending line that was 20 deep (after Jordan decided to pull off the front and work the shaver line). Holding it all together was long-time friend Tony M. whose main job is to prep and cut ice, as well as maintain inventory and prepare dinner.

Artscape 2007

Mom's line. This line never grew shorter than you see it here.

I rocked the shaver line the whole day, along with some help in the late afternoon from Jordan. Four shavers, never stopping except to reload. Shaving ice in a never ending ribbon of fine, delicious stuff.

To be honest, I've never rocked four machines at once. At one point, Tony was about to step in to help but I shooed him away with my ego being the main reason. I wanted to see if I could rock the four machines and keep up with the demand of three lines of customers. I rocked it for about two hours. I was in love with myself. Then mom came and Jordan stepped back to run two of the shavers.

Artscape 2007

Sara's Line - amazed and in awe to get shave ice.

Day two is over and while I'm usually wiped out and dreading one more day at Artscape, tonight I'm feeling good. We worked it - hard. My crew are studs. They never looked up. They never complained. They never took a piss. They're fucking awesome.

Tomorrow, the same crew returns, but this time they're going to be joined by Mariano and Isiaiah, two of some of Baltimore's best line cooks - studs in their own right (Mariano worked for a Michelin 1 star in Italy), as well as first-timer newbie Isabelle.

Whatever the outcome, I'm stoked and pumped that we're going to have a rockin' crew for the final day in the sun.

Maybe this time we won't run out of ice...

Artscape 2007

Throughout the day we see old friends, like B.J. and his family - long time supporters of Jay's Shave Ice.