Opinion

Cooking for the community can be a lot of fun

Last week, I had a busy weekend cooking for the community. The good folks from the Douglas Park Community School Society teamed up with a team from Southgate Church and we cooked hamburgers and hot dogs for Community Day on Saturday and made some delicious breakfast wraps for all the athletic competitors at the Try-it Triathlon at City Park on Sunday.

OK, I didn’t actually do any cooking, but I deftly placed a lot of wieners into buns, and skillfully wrapped tasty omelettes into foil wraps. The crew usually moves me from spot to spot in the assembly line as the day goes on.

I can stir onions, I can flip burgers  or I can sell pop, juice, milk or coffee. This multi-tasking was learned over the years at many Fire Prevention Open Houses or Celebrity Days at Tim Hortons or McDonalds.

The last time I worked at McDonalds, a little girl quietly suggested I was getting behind making fries, so I was moved to Big Macs. Then a young boy smiled and told his supervisor that the chief was putting on too many pickles and onions on the burgers. I ended up outside giving out balloons at the drive through. I think my speed and skill was too much for them inside.

A food line-up at a fair is a great place to watch people. We were moving people along our food line quite efficiently but some people seem to think that when they arrive at a fair at noon on a sunny day there should be no waiting. Most of our customers were pleased with our service and our smiles, and I know more of them would have stopped and laughed at my jokes if we weren’t moving them along so fast.

Come to think of it, often while I was making a joke, I was asked to move to another work station. I guess we were pretty busy.

Serving the public has come a long way, with Food Safe regulations now being enforced. Wearing gloves, having a wash station, keeping food at a certain temperature are just some of the critical regulations that we had to follow. That’s a far cry from the regulations we follow at our own homes when we eat from own barbecues.

Some people bring their own gluten-free buns, others ask us to make sure there is absolutely no cheese products on anything. These are all requests we have to be prepared for.

One lady approaches with a nine-year-old boy and asks if I know the ingredients of the wieners. Personally, I’ve never wanted to know what the ingredients of a wiener are but I tell her they are good quality beef wieners. She asks for a well-cooked  one, and a bun with no butter or onions on it. She smiles and thanks us as they walk away.

Five feet from the table, the wiener falls out of the bun, but like any normal nine-year-old boy, he picks it up, wipes it on his jeans and pops it back in the bun before Mom notices. I can testify he was well under the five-second rule, but at that point, I don’t think it matters what’s in the wiener anymore.

Putting it all together and cleaning it all up takes some time, but the sun was shining and I smelled like fried onions. It was a great start to the summer. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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