I Never Met A Pampered Chef

Lance Weisser

I never met a real pampered chef in my life. As part of my 1994 training at The Dubruelle French Culinary School, I asked to be sent to Cara International at the Vancouver Airport. I wanted to know, first hand, how airline food was prepared. Immediately, I was ordered to grill off 75 salmon steaks on a flame grill at one time. They were to be seared with grill marks on both sides til just cooked, then sent to the freezers. The Executive Chefs of British Airways, Lufthansa, JAL etc. were running about with clipboard carrying airline food inspectors, watching everyone like hawks. In the corner was this guy who did nothing for eight hours a day except make individual omelettes in an omelette pan, one right after the other. And then I was sent to another room where everyone was taking fresh whole fruit and turning it into fruit salad.

Sometime later I was sitting on a plane (economy) while the food was being distributed. Usually we only got whatever was left, but on this particular day the attendants were asking if we wanted ‘chicken or beef’. The businessman in front of me was stalling the process by asking our attendant particulars about each. Finally, with only the slightest hint of exasperation in her voice, she leaned over to his ear and said, “Sir, this may not prove to be the greatest meal you’ve ever had in your life . . . . but there’s always ‘tomorrow’”. He swallowed, and then said softly, “I’ll take ‘the chicken’”.

Both those experiences taught me the value of honouring those who attend to us. The service industry is made up of you and me. Not having gone on a flight since 2005, I imagine those meals and that service is history, but the lesson wasn’t lost on me.


7 Comments on “I Never Met A Pampered Chef

  1. A very true lesson indeed.
    We fly to Singapore fairly often and chatting to a flight attendant one time (it’s a 14 hour flight) I found that often they encounter Asians who don’t speak English. They quickly learned that rather than lengthy attempts at describing the menu options , that these customers always opted for the menu item that came with rice.
    Funnily enough, I STILL remember fondly an economy meal I ate with United Airlines back in 2000, it was beef and it was by far and away the most delicious airline meal I’ve ever eaten… I actually asked for seconds but other passengers had snapped up the few spare long before me… it was an AMAZING meal, so special kudos to the people who made my day that day (and gave me a fond memory of it ever since).


    • I had forgotten this post. Lance stopped posting in May of this year. I don’t know what happened to him. I miss his wonderful posts.
      Gentle People. Would that the world were filled with those gently people like you and Lance. You savor life’s details. That is the only means by which we find contentment. Thank you for reminding me of the post. Here’s to all of the people who serve us!


  2. Pingback: Bring on the Omelette! « newfoundlandtraveller

  3. HOLY SMOKES! I almost had heart failure suddenly staring at this old mud man–you’re a piece of work, you know that?
    Jeez, I’d love to sit down with you and hear you tell a few over a couple of shots of something real smooth. That would be my idea of a good time.
    You have the best way of drawing deep from the well, my dear.
    As soon as you began opening your cupboard doors for us, I just couldn’t stop smiling. That was so touching. There’s really nothing quite as intimate as the treasures we’ve collected and the stories which accompany them.
    Thank you for this (I think). Now go polish some silver.


    • Lord, you write well. There is no ostentation in anything you paint or write. I suspect there is none in your life or in your genes. An honest man standing.

      I am reminded of the lines from Robert Bolt’s portrayal of Sir Thomas More in the play, “A Man For All Seasons”:

      “Norfolk: Oh, confound all this…. I’m not a scholar, as Master Cromwell never tires of pointing out, and frankly I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not. But damn it, Thomas, look at those names…. You know those men! Can’t you do what I did, and come with us, for fellowship?

      More: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?”

      (Thank goodness for Wikipedia! I’d have spent a day or two looking for that little exchange. But, I wouldn’t have had to polish the silver.)


      • now you really have gone too far. but the sentiment is what counts, and in this I can only say ‘save me a place by the fire.’ (and bless your heart for not taking that stupidly quasi-chauvinistic line about ‘the silver’ the wrong way–god knows I didn’t mean it as such–I was just trying to divert your attention)


  4. “A Lesson in Living” by Lance Weisser.

    I am discovering that some of the best stories, insights, and lessons on living life well are coming to me through the comments people make on some silly post of my own. This is one of them. I wanted to feature Lance’s story because it illustrates one of those insightful slices of life left for me to savor. Thank you, Lance, for sharing with us.



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