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French Fries and Lemonade Summer Memories in the Kitchen
Summer is here in Atlanta, and that means good summer cooking. I love summertime and summer foods because they remind me of the years I spent working in restaurants. Long before I was an attorney, before I’d even gotten into corporate America, I was a cook. I got my first job, in Maryland, at age 14. I had to get a work permit in order to work at the Alaska Stand, my favorite sub shop in Ocean City, Maryland. They had the best french fries and lemonade. My first job was as a fry cook, but I really wanted to move to the cheesesteak grill because it looked like a lot of fun, and because being a teenager working over a hot vat of oil is a recipe for acne. After the Alaska Stand, I worked in restaurants through age 23. It was nine long, great years, where I took on many roles, including dishwasher, busboy, and chef.
One time I ran a wood-fired pizza oven while working at a microbrewery out in Arizona where I also learned to cook everything from scratch. All of our bread was made in house and even the salad dressings were made from scratch. Working in restaurants taught me a lot and really shaped my working style today. Spending time in restaurants instilled me “Working in restaurants taught me a lot and really shaped my working style today.”
with a deep sense of customer service. I saw firsthand the value of delivering an amazing experience. In a restaurant, you need to deliver great service in addition to good food, no matter how busy or stressed you are. Working in a kitchen means multitasking to the extreme. In college, I worked in a restaurant that was converted from an old historic house. The kitchen was barely big enough for three people, and we could still put out over 600 dinners in one night. If you’ve never worked in a restaurant before, know that 600 dinners is an amazing number to hit. We could do it because we learned how to be efficient through prep work. Even today, running my firm, my colleagues and I are always thinking about how we’re doing things and how we can be more efficient. My restaurant experience provided me with a foundation that is fundamental to who I am today. I no longer have to cook for a living, but I do enjoy summertime foods. French fries and lemonade still have a special place in my heart, though these days I’ve swapped the deep fryer for a grill. My family may give me a hard time about it, but I’m still a Maryland guy at heart. To me, nothing says summer like grilled barbecue chicken with fresh Maryland corn on the cob and applesauce. That’s the perfect summer meal. -David Brauns
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