So I had 2 days to prepare all the 60 bento boxes to be delivered on Monday at 10 am. The hardest part of all of course was making all those Naruto faces. But the other stuff if put together like putting lettuce, rice, all vegetables and chicken on the box, they takes lots of time too.
From the initial sample my friend wanted me to change cherry tomato with sausages and those chicken karaage with chicken katsu, which meant more works to be done since I had to cut all the sausages and cook them while with cherry tomato only need to be washed and put straight into the box. The same with chicken katsu, they need more time to prepare compared to karaage. But since I had three good assistants it’s not a big problem since they could do all those thing.
Officially I started cooking on Saturday at 1 pm, started with all those egg sheets for Naruto faces. I had to prepare lots of pink egg sheets since it also act as a based for all the other facial details. I made them with my crepes pan and turned out I could only make four templates on one sheet, so I had to make at least 15 pink sheets. The yellow sheets were easier to make since they only egg yolk which are thicker and we can make very even color unlike the lighter egg white especially if we have to mix them with another ingredients (like tomato sauce), we really need to mix them well to make an even color on all the sheet surface. Just for the face parts, I used 30 eggs. I still had some unused egg yolks but they can be used for making katsu later. I stop at 5 pm and drive to pick up my wife and we had dinner before going home.
Sunday morning at 7 am I went to the market to buy all the vegetables and other ingredients and continue cutting the face parts until about 8 pm. My lovely wife helped me cut all the cheese and carrot and some of the nori parts. She really hates the smell of nori but still helped cut them, which I greatly appreciate. And while I was busy cutting all those parts, I also needed to coordinate my assistant to prepare all the sausages, chicken, and the vegetables since they need to be prep before we cook them during Monday morning.
So while the other asleep around 9.30 pm since they all need to start working at 4 am, I started to assemble all those face parts. When the time already at 11.30 pm and the progress was very slow, I was also very tired and sleepy, there’s sinking feeling grew in my heart that I couldn’t finish them. During that time I realized that I had to removed some facial details from the original design in order to finish them on time. I was ready not to sleep at all that night but I knew that I need to rest so I have some energy to speed things up in the morning.
I slept for 2 hours and wake up again around 4 am, I didn’t feel like sleeping at all during those time. The others including my wife already wake up and started washing rice, vegetables, and preparing all the food. I made one bento example on where to position the food for the others to follow, helping cutting lemon, arrange lettuce on the box before continuing assembling the faces (while my assistants are having good cooking skills, they never made a bento before so they’re quite slow on arranging and putting the food in the boxes but I’m sure that for the next projects they will become faster).
Because I had limited experience making lots of bento, we run out of lettuce. Luckily the traditional market near our home started at 6 am so I still have time to buy extra lettuce, but I lost a precious 30 minutes for that and added extra pressure for me.
On 7.30 am we could only manage to finished 5 boxes. On 8 am we managed wrapping up 24 boxes. My wife already left because she had an important meeting in the office. She told me later that night that she really panicked but didn’t say it when she left. I could feel my assistants panicked (and so did I) but I knew that I need to stay calm and keep my composure and just continue to finish the job so they could focused on the tasks at hand.
I didn’t know exactly how but we managed to finished 60 bento boxes around 8.40 am. I told my assistant to arrange some of the boxes on the table for getting their pictures. It would be cooler if we could took all 60 boxes in one shot but we didn’t have enough time since they need to be pack immediately. I drove at 8.50 am and thank God somehow He made the usually very heavy Monday traffic empty so I could delivered those bento boxes at 9.45 am.
I know that the overall result is below my expectation but still I’m very happy that my team could pull it off. There are lots of thing to be reviewed internally to make the work flow more efficient so we can produce more bento faster and better. I know that given time and more projects we can be very good. My wife told me that there will be order of 100 (one hundred !!!) bento boxes coming in June so I need to be ready from now.