To faculty and students, lunches provide a much-needed break from their rigorous schedules - a time to unwind and enjoy a good meal. But we wouldn’t be able to relax during those 30 minutes without the laborious, day-in day-out work of Bullis' everyday heroes: the kitchen staff.
Each day, the kitchen staff - a group of merely nine individuals - manages to feed nearly 1000 hungry high school students and teachers. Unfortunately, this truly remarkable accomplishment goes unnoticed every day. Students go through lunch unaware of the incredible amount of work that goes into making the various meal offerings. To end this ignorance and increase appreciation, The Bulldog sat down with members of the kitchen staff to discuss what goes in to making the average Bullis lunch.
At 5:00 AM - while most students are still deep in their sleep - Doan Duong, the Service Director and chief of the dining staff, prepares for her day of work. She has repeated this routine for 30 years now, every day bringing the two things that have helped make her the successful woman she is today: her notebook and her smile.
By 7 a.m. Doan arrives at Bullis and immediately counts the number of cars pulling into the Bullis driveway. She takes a sigh of relief, as she sees that each of the eight fellow staff members has reported for a day’s work. The one underlying principle that goes into preparing lunches is teamwork; each staff member is assigned to a section of the lunch. It takes every person completing his or her role in order to dish out the entire lunch.
Carlos Acha prepares the deli bar, slicing fresh meat and laying out new cheeses every morning. “Everything is fresh,” says Carlos, who shares the same desire to provide lunches of the utmost quality.
While Sakhawat Hossain is famous for his student-favorite Wednesday sugar cookies, he also handles additional offerings such as PB&J sandwiches, other deserts, and milk.
all nine members are ready; preparation begins, as the lower school’s lunch begins as early as 11 a.m. To ensure that all the food is prepared in time, responsibility is divided amongst each of the staff members.
In terms of the main course, all staff members lend a helping hand, but Chief Cook Fritz Pierre-Louis and assistant cook Gualberto Mender lead the coordination. Fritz is the most veteran of the lunch crew, having worked here for an astounding 38 years. His longevity in the kitchen has resulted in high efficiency:
“We are so efficient that lunches aren’t difficult; they are just time consuming,” said Fritz.
The Bullis staff works tirelessly until 10:30AM, at which point they allow themselves a 23-minute lunch break before serving the first round of students - the lower schoolers at 11:00. From that moment on, their attitude shifts from efficient and productive to kind and welcoming. With a warm smile and an upbeat “Hello, how are you?” they feed and brighten the day of almost 1000 students and faculty.
“You will never see me grouchy,” Doan said, as she is able to sustain a positive attitude throughout the entire day.
At the end of lunch, however, sustaining a positive attitude is much more difficult. This is because the already demanding clean-up (handled by Rudith Cruz and Ahmed Hussen) is even harder due to the students’ inability to clean up effectively. All too often, we (the students) fail to wipe down our tables and chairs or completely clean their plates. Even worse, we often throw our silverware in the garbage. For the kitchen staff, our laziness topples on even more work to their stressful clean up. Doan pleads for the student body to do their part:
“I only ask that the students give me 30 seconds of their time; that’s very simple,” Doan said.
Rudith Cruz usually finishes the final clean up at around 3:30PM, marking the end of yet another tireless day. From time to time, though, the workday continues on into the night as the occasional after school ceremony or banquet requires catering. Once the work ends, the nine members of the dining staff return home, only to start the rigorous process all over again. This begs the question: what motivates you our dining staff to get out of bed every day? Why do they love their jobs? The overwhelming answer I found was: the students.
Employees praised the students’ attitudes and playfulness. As Fritz said, “We see the students as very enjoyable, very respectful, and we have a good relationship.”
Doan comments that the only reason she has been able to sustain her long career is because of the students:
“I have lasted 30 years because the students love me. We have the best student body of anywhere.”
After reading this article, I hope you better appreciate all that the Bullis dining staff does every day. With a ratio of over 100 students/faculty for every one staff member, each of the eight crew members must work extremely hard to satisfy our needs. They bring unbeatable work ethics - comparable to that of superheroes - each day in order to prepare great meals. We, the student body, should thank the lunch staff by simply clearing our table correctly, saying “thank you” after being served, wiping our plates off, and NOT throwing silverware away. Let’s learn from these “every day superheroes” and apply the same principles of hard work to our own lives.