Kooza Kitchen: Behind the scenes at Cirque du Soleil

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Cirque du Soleil has always been such a magical experience for me. The acrobatics, stage production and general wow factor were always such a mystery for me, so when we had the opportunity to go behind the scenes for the in-town production of KOOZA, I practically jumped (or somersaulted) at the opportunity to see just how things worked, particularly how they feed over 120 cast and crew, 3 meals a day, 6 days a week!

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Stepping into the Kooza kitchen we were greeted by the Kooza Kitchens Manager Shane Schipper, an Aussie who joined the crew over two years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Shane gave us a little insight into what his day to day routine is, and while he and his staff aren’t flipping through the air tied to a pogo stick (that actually happens in the show…) there really is some magic to what these guys are serving every day.

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Kooza Kitchen cooks for more than 120 cast and crew with nearly 70 family members. That’s 17 different nationalities, 2 menus per day, 6 days a week, and just get get a scope of just how much food that is Shane gave us his weekly supply numbers:

  • 800 Eggs
  • 400kg of Proteins, meats and seafood
  • 80kg of fresh fruit
  • 100kg of vegetables
  • 60kg of potatos
  • 4 boxes of bananas

All this and more are turned into delicious meals by just 4 full time kitchen staff.

We had the pleasure of having dinner on what is know as their favourite night, Mexican Night, where an absolutely mouthwatering array of food like carnitas, spiced fish, chorizo, quesadillias, jalapeno poppers and guacamole were on the menu. Fixing a plate (or 3) for myself I was honestly surprised at just how good the food was. This ain’t no ordinary cafeteria food.

Shane also shared his recipe for his famous Pork Carnitas, be mindful though – it serves 130ppl.

Pork Carnitas

What you need:

  • 16kg pork shoulder
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 4 tbsp Mexican oregano (regular will work, but Mexican oregano has a hint of lemon to it)
  • 2 tbsp marjoram
  • 3 habenero chillies – chopped
  • 2 tbsp all-spice powder
  • 3 chipotle chillies – chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 6 bay leaves
  • Chopped onions, carrots, celery and garlic
  • oranges cut in half
  • 2 cups vegetable oil

How You’ll Do It

  • Mix the dry ingredients to make a rub.
  • Wash and dry the pork shoulder, score the fat with a knife to give the rub somewhere to hide.
  • Rub to the shoulder and allow to sit and absorb the good stuff for 24 hours.
  • Sear all sides on flat top until golden.
  • Place in a tray of chopped onion, carrots, celery and whole garlic cloves. Add 3 oranges cut in half.
  • Add a cup of water and 2 cups of vegetable oil.
  • Cover tray with foil and start in a hot oven – 200 degrees Celsius – for an hour then drop down to 130C.
  • We place our pork in a slow oven overnight; the night team puts it in and then 8 hours later, the morning shift pulls it out to cool.
  • Once cool enough to touch, remove the liquid from the tray and reduce it in a pan, skimming fat as you go.
  • Pull apart the pork with 2 forks.
  • To finish, fry the shredded pork on a hotplate to give a crispy texture and finish with a little of the reduced liquid.
  • Serve with corn and flour tortillas, coriander, guacamole and pico de gallo (see below).

Pico de Gallo

  • 10kg ripe roma tomatoes – deseeded and diced
  • 6 white onions – finely chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander – chopped
  • 5 jalepeno chillies – finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Juice of 8 limes

Guacamole

  • 40 ripe avocados – smashed
  • Juice of 10 limes
  • 2 bunches coriander – chopped (optional for those coriander haters)
  • 6 red onions – finely diced
  • 10 tomatoes – deseeded and diced

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After indulging in all the delicious food (including some tasty desserts) we took our seats and watched the absolutely amazing show. To say it was breathtaking is a clear understatement, and the reason I continue to see every Cirque du Soleil show that comes to town. On top of that we got to go backstage and see how everything gets done behind the scenes, which proved just how much work goes into the whole production.

If you haven’t seen Kooza yet I strongly suggest you buy tickets immediately!

NSW: The Showring at the Entertainment Quarter Sydney
Aug 25 2016 – Nov 13 2016.

QLD: Skygate, Next to Brisbane Airport DFO,  Brisbane
Nov 24 2016 – Jan 8 2017

VIC: Flemington Racecourse Melbourne
Jan 20 2017 – Mar 12 2017

WA: Belmont Park Racecourse Perth
Apr 13 2017 – May 7 2017

More details visit: www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza

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