In a recent post, one of our writers mentioned that she’d initially believed everyone who worked here in our HQ would be a serious food nerd with classically trained culinary chops — only to realize that no, that’s not the case at all. We can’t all cook, but we do all love food, which is probably why each of our diverse career paths has landed us here. But that got me wondering … where did our food-related careers start, anyway?
“One of my first gigs after college was working as a banquet waiter at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle. Big banquets are held in the Westin’s Grand Ballroom, which can hold up to 1,200 dinner guests. I had never waited on tables and didn’t know the difference between a salad fork or a dessert fork, let alone where they should be placed on the table. Fortunately they teamed me up with an experienced waiter for my first event. The evening begins with setting the tables. Glasses have to sparkle and everything has to be in its proper place. Once the guests are seated, all hell breaks loose in the kitchen. The Banquet Captains, known as the SS among the staff, scream and curse to keep everyone on track. Meanwhile, the waiters jostle for position in the food line. Forget saying please or thank you. There’s no time to be nice. Outside the kitchen, the waiters weave through an ocean of tightly packed tables trying not to drop their heavy trays. Each tray holds up to 10 hot plates with lids. At my first event, I could only manage six. There were lots of humiliating moments, including dropping a dirty fork on a fur coat and being poked in the rear end by a giant foam finger during a sales conference. It may not have been the ideal job after college, but it was certainly a memorable one. And, if anything, I now know how to fold a napkin into a fancy fan shape.” – Ericka Berg, web content editor
“The first food-related job I had was in high school, pushing carts at Fred Meyer. It wasn’t the worst job, and I happen to hold the record for ‘most carts pushed in a line’ (17. And up a hill, I might add). While all that glory was fun, it just wasn’t for me. I left the world of cart pushing and grocery bagging to make smoothies at World Wrapps (that extra p isn’t a typo). I’ll admit I loved the free food, but you can only eat so much of a good thing. Needless to say, the world of smoothie blending and burrito wrapping wasn’t for me either.” – Maddy Ross, office coordinator/receptionist
“My first food-related job was in high school at the concession stand of our local movie theater in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was a new (at the time!), large theater that boasted 12 screens and a café where customers could get mini pizzas, pretzel bites and nachos. That was where I learned to love the smell of jalapeños … and learned to HATE the taste of them. I also learned that spilling a large soda into a warming bin of fresh popcorn was one of the most disgusting things to clean up EVER.” – Sarah Grant, culinary coordinator
“I worked as a server in the dining room of Shady Pines a retirement community when I was about 14. Lots of creamed and chipped food, and the worst uniform in the history of apparel. I can still feel the polyester against my skin when I close my eyes.” – Rebecca Pellman, internal communications manager
“Technically my first ‘real’ job was at Chilly Jilly’s Frozen Yogurt serving up nonfat yogurt with loads of toppings at the height of the high-carb/no-fat diet craze in Santa Monica, California, circa 1987.
Unofficially my first food job was marrying up the salt and pepper shakers and condiment jars and folding napkins while I waited for my mom to get off work at the restaurant she managed. My sister and I frequently got in trouble for spiking the waiters’ sodas and coffees with Tabasco or eating too many of the mints that they presented with the checks.” – Lara Trepanier, director of store operations
“I started working at Dairy Queen long before they called themselves DQ, right when their Blizzard product was introduced. My name badge also had the wonderful word TRAINEE on it. I made my cones way too big and tall and seemed to put too many goodies in the Blizzards and on the sundaes. Customers started noticing that and soon my service line was super long every time I worked … everybody wanted the ones I was making everything because I loaded my ‘works of art’ up. I wasn’t a fan of weighing the cones and following precise topping measurements. I was making masterpieces ;-)” – Stephanie Ogle, accounts payable specialist
“My first food-related job was at a store called Sign of the Bear in Sonoma, California. It was my first real job (unless you count baby-sitting and tutoring) in high school. Sign of the Bear is a family-run gourmet kitchen store on the Sonoma Plaza. It’s always packed full of tipsy tourists on their way between wine tastings. I quickly became enthralled with the culinary world and all things foodie, and it inspired me to start working for SLT. I am still good friends with the owners and always make a point of stopping in to visit when I’m back home. I find it so inspirational to see how other stores curate their assortment of gadgets and gizmos. And they’re usually pretty willing to share how items are selling for them. If you’re ever in Sonoma, you have to stop in!” –Kyle Pryde Weber, assistant buyer
As for me, THIS is actually my first food-related job. But enough about us — what about do you? Have you ever waited tables, bagged groceries or pulled Blizzards? Let us know!