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An appreciation of cafeterias

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POSTED: February 25, 2013 11:00 p.m.

There is a lot to be said and learned about any purposeful commercial business that requires organized systems and procedures. One of them is a cafeteria.
It is a business about which most of us probably never knew or took the time to learn. The word stems from the word “restaurant,” which in turn emerges from the Latin word “restaurer,” which means to restore your body for continual performance. Cafes, cabarets, nightclubs, soup kitchens and many other English names of places where we go to eat or drink so that we can restore ourselves stem from the word.
I only can touch on the many facets of the preparation of foods, chefs and cafeterias. Since many of us probably never give a second thought to it, just remember: Every time we go into a cafeteria or restaurant, the food probably has been prepared by chefs who have been trained and certified to prepare home-cooked foods and many exotic dishes for us for nourishment, taste and acceptance. I always have believed that home-cooked foods are closer to us than any other prepared foods. A successful cafeteria is due to the ability of its chefs.
In a major cafeteria, there usually are five chefs on duty. Each chef has subordinate personnel. Most of the time, chefs seldom are seen — they are in the rear carrying out their duty. Occasionally, they will appear, wearing their fluffy, white caps and white aprons.
There is a chef responsible for the serving line who is referred to as the line chef. He or she must assure that all dishes are displayed properly, the appearance is pleasing, and the servers are neat in appearance, properly dressed and courteous.
There is a chef who chooses the meats and prepares them for serving. There is a chef responsible for preparation of salads, and a chef responsible for breads and desserts.
There is, of course, the head chef responsible for overseeing all the duties and responsibilities of the subordinate chefs and the servers on the serving line. The head chef spot-checks all the foods on the line, making sure that the cafeteria’s high standards are being followed. Of course, not all cafeterias have such a large staff.
For entertainment, there usually is recorded music. Sometimes, there are live combos playing popular music.
We like this cafeteria mostly because of its friendly attitude, especially when there is that favorite dish that is not on the serving line.  
“Fix me a mess of fried okra,” I always ask, moving on down the line, “and I would like some cocktail sauce, too!” 
“OK!” comes the response.
Where else would one go to get such special service? Where else would one see familiar people every time, visiting a cafeteria? Where else would one go for just a plain, down-home environment and home-cooked foods? 
In Richmond Hill, I am not aware of any public cafeterias.

Bond lives in Richmond Hill.

 

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