Bringing a crew over 125 people to shoot a film on Stone Island in August - Mazatlan’s hottest month of the year – presented a myriad of logistical challenges.
The biggest challenge, by far, was how to feed four meals a day to a crew of 125 people that was 1/3 American, 1/3 Mazatlan locals, and 1/3 from Mexico City; all with very different tastes.
With no true “film caterer” in the city, and knowing that time is literally money; and having experienced past catered meals with much smaller crews that would arrive one or two hours late – I reached out to Linda Lee. She had done an excellent job catering a much smaller event for a much smaller cast and crew on a previous show I produced in Mazatlan. But a single meal for 20 people is far different than four days of four daily meals for 125 people on hard-to-get-to Stone Island. Basically, I was asking her to prepare 2,000 meals in four days.
When I explained the logistics, the importance of being on time 100% of the time, and having enough food to feed 125 people four times a day… Linda said, “Catering for a film has always been on my bucket list, I can do it.”
With less than a week of advance notice; Linda Lee created four daily meals that had a variety of offerings that satisfied every region of our production crew. In addition to this, she was unexpectedly requested to prepare eight fairly challenging specific individual meals including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, "protein only" and "seafood only." This was at least an additional 32 special meals per day.
Every single meal over our four days of production on Stone Island were an individual success. Each meal was completely different than the previous day’s offerings.
To successfully prepare 4 meals a day for a crew of 125, and an additional 32 specialized meals a day for individuals over the course of four days in any location would be a challenge. But on Stone Island… she had to build a field kitchen, bring in all the food and supplies by boat, and often supply her own electricity with a generator… which had to be far enough away that it would not impact the production audio; but close enough that it was not inconvenient or too far away from the cast and crew. Oh - and she also had to provide tables, chairs and shade.
No small order. I had assumed it would be impossible. But Linda Lee pulled it off with grace, style, and truly knocked it out of the park. One of my biggest concerns was whether or not an American would be able to prepare traditional Mexican meals for our local and Mexico City crew. I was amazed to hear some of the Mexican crew asking her to share her recipes.
Like an army, a film crew travels “on its stomach.” Bad catering, late meals, or the food being being too hot, too cold, too bland... whatever - can destroy cast and crew morale very quickly. That was our biggest concern – but Linda Lee kept everything on time, on schedule; and even provided a wide variety of drink options to compliment each individual dish. In 25 years in the film and television business; this was a first. My guess is that it will never happen again. But it was glorious.
Linda even provided extra meals for visiting children, husbands and wives; and one day - she was asked to unexpectedly feed an additional 65 extras with only a couple hours notice. She pulled it off with no problems.
If I ever need catering in Mazatlan for any group – large or small – there is only one person who I know can pull it off… that person is Linda Lee.
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