Fries With That?

My stint at Truett’s Grill is approaching it’s end. But it is a given that every end is sandwiched by two beginnings. I’ll tell you later of my new beginning but until then- Truett’s Grill, Day 1….
Day One had finally come, after many other days, of waiting and at times doubting my employment. I looked forward to this day with excitement. I showed up before my scheduled start to receive my uniform and suited up. In gear, I headed to the “grill alley”, probably better understood as the kitchen, to get to work. Strolling through the alley, I met the other employees, whose hands were too full to shake mine, considering that we were only an hour into the breakfast shift. Among those employees was Andrew who would be training me today on “Fries”. How hard could it be? I was actually somewhat excited as it was in line with a food concept I dream of.

As the name suggests, the “Fries” station is responsible for producing the waffle fries characteristic of Chic-fil-A, as well as the other fried side items: home fries, okra- and seeing it was breakfast time- a lot more hash browns than anything else. My job was to cook the hash browns, box them, and throw’em in the shoot. With much practice and experimenting, Chic-fil-A Inc. has determined cooking and holding times to achieve and maintain freshness. Hash enters the cross hatched wires of the basket which submerges into the now sizzling fry oil. The timer is suppressed, and at its alarm, the hash are to be hoisted into a warming bin. As the orders roll in, the shoots are loaded, hopefully at a slightly faster rate than the orders, which are monitored by an over hanging screen. There is a second timer though, called the hold timer. When it goes off, the hash browns, or fries, are deemed unservable, old, no good…

Andrew taught me that at certain times of the day, it is better to drop less more often than more less often, to ensure that each morsel makes it out before the hold timer expires. But there are times that it is no doubt best to drop more, more often, namely the lunch hour. During any given lunch time, you are bound to find four of four baskets either coming out of or descending into the fryer.

For the remainder of breakfast, I retrieved and sliced pans of biscuits or toasted bread, iced cinnamon clusters, scooped grits, packaged oatmeal, and assembled breakfast platters. This lasted till about 10:30 am, and does everyday, except for Saturday’s when breakfast ends at 11am. But on to lunch, probably easier than breakfast…Duties include making fries, scoopin sides, and frying and  boxing pies. I also grabbed grilled nuggets and chopped the chicken for salads. We use a slicer that’s reminiscent of a jumbo egg slicer that cuts the chicken in about two swoops.

I got hit hard when the the clock struck one…or whenever the lunch hour rush hit. I was trying to stay within the time windows, remembering to drop less more often, but they were ordering them faster than I could drop them but we were often holding for fries for 40 seconds or more and every second makes all the difference in fast food. “We should never be holding on fries during lunch!” the frustrated manager exhaled from up front. It was quite uncomfortable watching them watch me in wait for the fries. (By the way, the french fry scoop doesn’t work so well with waffle fries; they kinda get awkwardly stuck in the scoop.)

It’s been a while since my first day, and day after day, all the days begin to seem quite the same. So not much more to tell you about fries- perhaps the fastest part of this fast food restaurant and arguably the easiest, but probably the busiest.  But lots more to tell you and I’ve got to get it all out before I reach the next quickly approaching beginning.

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