Audiences worldwide revel in the onstage magic that talented Cirque performers create. The unseen magic is found in the Cirque kitchen, where culinary wizards skillfully piece ingredients together twelve times a week over six days. So what do the artists and site crew look forward to eating the most? Sunday brunch!
I’m pretty sure if I started a Brunch Fan Club all the staff would join. I’m also confident it would be far more successful than the fan club I started when I was 10 for New Kids on the Block which only had 3 people, including me. In fact brunch is so popular that on Skip’s first day his manager started his briefing with “DON’T mess with brunch!” (Ok he used a more vulgar term than “mess” but you get the point!)
There are a few key factors to why brunch is so well anticipated. Like a good Hollandaise sauce it involves an emulsion of elements. Starting with a great line up of food (obviously), whip up some interesting people you like to dine with and then slowly immerse yourself in conversations that make you laugh and learn.
As for the food there’s a variety of delicious goods on offer, crispy rashers of bacon, scrambled eggs, assorted sautéed mushrooms, smoked salmon, pork sausages, golden hash browns, baked beans, pancakes with butterscotch or chocolate sauce, mixed berries, fresh sliced fruits, selection of cheeses, tubs of yoghurts, croissants and even cook to order eggs.
Skip is always dreaming up special treats to enhance the experience for the artists and site crew. A new dish features each week with guest appearances from sticky date pudding, lamingtons and croissant bread and butter pudding all going down famously. This week I’m going in for banana pancakes, apple crumble and “muffnuts” a combination of donuts and muffins…yum!
The fascinating people are the reason I return for brunch each week with the kitchen acting as grounds for forming fast friendships. There’s Annie aka ‘Mother Hen’ who is super bubbly dining attendant who always greets you with the widest of smiles and warmest of hugs. There’s Nico, a fly in electrician who stays for weeks at a time and then returns to Quebec where he runs an antique store and a series of storage units. And there’s David who recites either inappropriate yet comical clichés or quotes lines from Broadway plays that are oddly suitable for every situation.
Table conversations vary from recent side trips, other shows they’ve worked on and what debaucheries happened last night. When we first joined the tour I was having brunch with one of the artists Laura and her Dad who was visiting. A series of acrobats, high wire tight ropewalkers and clowns welcomed him to the Cirque family. Laura’s father would introduce me and say “This is the most important person on tour! If the chef’s wife is happy, then the chef is happy. If the chef is happy he makes great food and you are all happy. So the moral is keep her happy!” It was an endearing comment that made me laugh every time he said it. It may also explain all the gift baskets I’ve been receiving lately…(Just clowning around, I wish!)
Despite the delicious food, fabulous people and entertaining conversations, I believe there is one dominating factor to the success of brunch. For a nomadic group, brunch offers the known in a sea of unknowns. New cities every six weeks, new languages, finding grocery stores, translating products and ingredients, finding places to eat, buying sim cards and data and travelling by plane, train, tram, bus or bike to get to work takes a huge amount of mental and physical energy. Add 10 shows a week to this mix and it can take a toll on a person. So if it means at the end of a long hard week there is one reassurance, one constant that fills your belly and leaves you smiling, then Sunday brunch is it.