Behind the Glass

Ryan ConklinRyan Conklin is a Chef Manager for Culinary & Nutritional Services at Rex. His mission is to bring healthy, gourmet cuisine to the Rex community & shed the label of “hospital food.”

5:00am- Raleigh North Carolina. Marjorie McPhail awakes to the sound of her alarm clock. After waiting in bed for an extra few minutes, she fully awakes…it’s time to go to work.

5:30am- Marjorie gets in her Honda, and proceeds onto the hustle and bustle of Raleigh’s outer belt line for her 20 minute commute. This is a daily routine for her, as she listens to her music and thinks about her busy workday ahead. “I usually am in my car, thinking about the food the chefs are cooking, I hope they make it look good for me”.

6:00am- The customers start rolling in. At first, it’s one by one, then as we creep more towards 7:00am, they start arriving in small groups. Marjorie is ensuring that the display case looks full and appetizing. In between customers, she is doing things like checking in the bagel order, traying up pastries, and notifying the cooks of what is running low in the case. “I know how people like their breakfast cooked; they want the sausage and bacon to look a certain way. If things are overcooked I let the cooks know, I want my customers to be happy.”

10:00am- Breakfast is in full swing, and it’s around this time that Marjorie starts to get excited about the lunch meal. “I’m always excited to see what the chefs will be bringing out for me to serve; I want to see the people happy.”

As we set up for lunch, one thing is for sure. Marjorie is not a chef, but she knows our high standards. The food needs to look delicious and appealing. It’s so great to have somebody not afraid to tell the team that the vegetables are over cooked, or the chicken looks dry. There has been numerous times that Marjorie has brought food back to the kitchen, because she knows that our teams’ standards are high. “I love when they cook my broccoli so it looks bright green; It makes my job easier when the customers are happy.” In recent years, as our culinary team’s standard changed, so did Marjorie’s.”

She has also learned a lot about food that up until 4 years ago she had never heard of. Items like Quinoa, Goat Cheese, Arugula, Plantains, Gorgonzola, Rib eye Steaks, Acorn Squash, Wheatberries, and fresh Mango Salsa are all ingredients that she now serves in her display case, that previously she was unexposed to. “Customers really like all of the new items that we cook, and they love the presentation.”

Chef’s can have high standards, but these standards must travel throughout the team to be a successful unit. We are lucky to have Marjorie on staff to help with taking our program to new heights. For someone serving tens of thousands of meals per year, I’m glad that she takes pride doing so. She takes ownership in her display case. She enjoys her job “Behind the Glass.”