By Vytas Dailide, College Chefs' Account Manager:
As an Account Manager, I am one of the few College Chefs’ employees that is not a classically trained chef. More specifically, I’m out meeting with House Directors & Housing Corp Boards, writing up customized contracts, etc. Occasionally you might find me in the kitchen lending a hand during one of our tastings but that is the extent of my kitchen experience.
That all changed when I recently was given the opportunity to serve and represent College Chefs at the 177th Beta Theta Pi Convention. What I experienced at this convention was a true glimpse into a day in the shoes of a Chef. We had the pleasure of experiencing the new Beta Theta Pi chapter house at the University of Oklahoma which is truly one of the nicest facilities I have seen.
Even though I am not experienced in meal preparation, especially one from scratch, I am not one who is afraid of long hours or hard work. In fact, I like a challenge and enjoy trying new things. Well, when I walked in at 9:00am and was promptly handed a Chef’s uniform I knew I was about to be challenged.
My experience was intense with some pretty serious obstacles along the way. For example, my first task was to use a commercial slicer to cut 20lbs of potatoes, but the machine didn’t work. No problem. We have another slicer as a backup. Then that one didn’t work. Ha! No need to worry folks, Assistant Director of Operations and Head Chef for the meal, Scott Bachman, had yet another back. He brought his own mandoline just in case. A little elbow grease, a little extra time and a blister later, the potatoes were done.
Our biggest challenge of the day was a power outage that lasted an hour and a half in the middle of service. Did I mention it was 100 degrees outside too...and it was cooler outside than in the kitchen? During the power outage with dinner service quickly approaching, I thought we would just serve what we had left and we were done. Not these pro’s. When John Reineke, Director of Housing for Beta Nationals, came in and asked if we would be good for dinner, I was shocked that Scott and Area Manager Chef Aaron Twitty both said that we would have no problem getting it out, without hesitation. WHAT???
The amazing thing about Chefs, especially the most talented ones we seek out to service our clients, is how well they think on their feet and react on the spot. I was beyond impressed by how much preparation and thought they put into their meals because it’s not "if there will ever be a power outage or a broken appliance" but "when." They're obviously pros and it showed big time for that event.
What made the day even more gratifying was providing service for the professional and courteous men of Beta Theta Pi. Hearing how much they enjoyed the food and how impressed they were during my presentation the following day was icing on the cake, or in this case the whip cream on the “Grilled Donut Strawberry Shortcake” dessert.
All in all, with a total of 2 ½ Chefs (I generously counted myself as a ½ Chef) we ended up preparing appetizers for approximately 600 from 3:00pm-5:30 (no power from 4:00pm-5:30pm) and dinner for 40 at 6:00pm. Our day started at 9:00am and ended at 9:30pm.