A Day in the Life: Pie Car
When an audience comes to see a Circus Smirkus show, they see the final product. They see the gorgeous costumes and the pretty lights, they hear the sensational sounds of the Smirkus band, they smell the freshly popped popcorn, all as they watch the hardworking Troupers perform.
But what the audience does not see is how the crew and Troupers live while not performing. In Circus Smirkus’ backlot, where the staff lives while on tour, there is a travelling Pie Car that comes with us. It is essentially a kitchen on wheels, and is where all of the Trouper and staff meals come from while we are on the road! Run by Andrew Levy, our Head Cook & Concessions Purchasing Coordinator, and with the help of the Assistant Cooks, Clark Gaudry, Macky Page, and Kevin Pariag, the Pie Car provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.
This is Andrew’s fourth year on staff, Clark’s third, Kevin’s first, and Macky’s first. Macky was introduced to Circus Smirkus through Cris Clark, a rigging coach on Smirkus’ Pre-Tour, and a coworker of Macky’s at Circus Maine. She gained cooking skills by working at a pizza place when she was younger, and found that working in the Pie Car would be a way to use her skill set, while still working in a circus environment. Andrew, or as many of us call him, Chef, began his Smirkus experience by being a homestay family. After being a homestay, Andrew’s son, Chase Levy, began Smirkus Summer Camp, and eventually became a Trouper. Andrew’s wife, Michele Levy, is also a part of the Smirkus family, as she is the President of the Board of Directors. Prior to Smrikus, Andrew owned a catering business, where he utilized his cooking skills.
On a typical show day, with shows at 1pm and 6pm, the Pie Car serves meals 2 hours prior to show time. However, they begin prepping the meals 2 hours before mealtime. Macky explains, “On days when the show is at 1 pm, we will have lunch at 11 am”, but the Pie Car will begin making the meal at 9 am. Or, on days when the show is at 4 pm, like today, the Pie Car serves lunch at 2 pm, but they begin preparing at 12 pm. Pie car is so nice to us, and provides us with breakfast (including the world’s best bacon) every day at 8 am. Macky goes on to explain, “Only one of us will make breakfast in the morning. So, one of us gets up early, and the rest of us show up about 15 minutes before we serve to help with dishes.”
So, how does Pie Car decide what is on the menu for the day? “Chef”, says all of our cooks. The Pie Car always serves us a variety of options, and we never get bored. They have to take into account, too, any dietary needs of staff and Troupers, including allergies and providing meatless options for the crowd. Macky mentions that she gets a lot of freedom to cook what she wants. Her favorite thing to make? “Weird salads with random stuff on them.” Chef says, “I have a budget. So, I know how much I have to spend for the whole year.”
To be even more efficient with saving food and money, Chef says, “We try to reuse leftovers as creatively as possible.” One day, at our stop in Keene, NH, the Pie Car presented us with 4 different types of pasta, all using leftovers from the week’s food. As our composer, Peter Bufano, would say, “Delicious!”
Macky’s favorite part of working Pie Car is the people she works with. Which helps, considering how tight of a space they have to work in. However, she does say it can get very hot, which can make things difficult. “But beyond that, working in the Pie Car really is lovely.” Chef keeps coming back to Smirkus year after year because of his love for catering. “If you work in the restaurant business, every night is the same. And then I started catering, and each party was different. And this is like a party, every day. The people really enjoy the food, and you hear it. Which is always nice.”
To join Clark, Kevin, Macky, Andrew, and the rest of Circus Smirkus’ Tour Staff and Troupers, you can get your tickets for the 2017 Big Top Tour here!