Last week was my mom’s birthday, and just like every one of her birthdays, she ended up cooking a feast. You’d think after running a restaurant for 15 years, she’d want to be taken out to be wined and dined. But for her, she’s happiest when she gets to be in the kitchen. My mom has been retired for over five years now, and while she doesn’t miss the back-breaking hours, she does miss the energy and spirit that envelops restaurant life.
It’s a family affair
At most mom-and-pop restaurants, the people you work with become your second family — if they aren’t already your immediate family. Lunch and dinner meals are typically prepared family style and everyone from the chefs and the bussers to the delivery drivers and servers, sit together to eat before and after their shifts.
When I was a kid, my brother and I went to work with my mom at the restaurant every day. But going to work didn’t excuse us from our homework. Nestled towards the back of the restaurant, was a tiny red leather booth where we were placed on permanent lock down until our homework was completed. I’d usually cheat, and have one of the servers help me finish my math problems so I could escape sooner than later.
Once the homework was done, I’d sneak off to the kitchen and prop myself up on a tall metal stool to help the cooks make dumplings or scoop the cream cheese mix into the wonton skins for the crab rangoons. Like old wise men, they were full of stories from the old country, filling my head with life lessons to learn from.
A special thanks
The people who worked at my mom’s restaurant played an integral part of my life growing up. I usually write a post that describes some incredible meal I’ve eaten or about a cool new restaurant I’ve discovered. But with this post today, I want to give a special thanks to all the people that work long hours in the restaurant business, cooking our meals, serving us delicious food tableside or delivering it to our door step.
Most people don’t get to see what happens behind the scenes at a restaurant, and as a result, sometimes we overlook the hard work and love that goes into making our meals. Today might not be National Restaurant Day, but don’t let that stop you from telling your delivery driver, server, host or chef, thanks for the good eats and warm smile!
Do you have any funny or memorable restaurant stories of your own? You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to share. And try to keep the stories PG-13 if you can.