Bruce MacNaughton writes, in It Was a Big Night, about his early kitchen experiences:
The custom was to serve old food to staff who were further down the pecking order in the kitchen brigade. The dishwashers usually received food well past its prime, covered in a gravy of some sort to mask it.
What will I cook for these men? I couldn’t imagine cooking this way for three 80-year-old Portuguese characters who were very hard-working. They always spoke Portuguese while working. They grab half-smoked cigars from the plates, wipe them off, light them and smoke them while washing the pots and pans. They were real characters.
It was 4 in the afternoon, so I cooked breakfast. I pan-fried potatoes with onions, eggs sunny side up, bacon, toast and jam. Being nervous how they would receive the plates, I rang the bell and watched the three men shuffle up to the counter. They looked at the plates for what seemed like forever. Then, finally, they turned and looked at each other in dead silence. Then they looked at me with tears flowing down their cheeks. It still gets me when I remember that moment. The men were so grateful for a fresh meal. I agree with what Don Miguel Ruiz once said, “Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.”
The personal thing category of Bruce’s blog is a steady source of compelling tales well-told.