16 years later, on January 19 2013, I started my first official workday at the Gallery. I watched familiar staff, tiny children in uniforms, and guests pass by. Only the second time around, I knew who didn't like mayonnaise, who preferred Diet Coke, and who giggled after eating a fresh chocolate chip cookie.
My first week was about settling in and understanding what people wanted to eat while visiting an art gallery. My first day I made way too much food. We had about five visitors and the construction crew had no idea that there was food for sale. On my secound day I carried a fridge upstairs (it was a mini fridge, but I'm only 5' 3" so from a ratio perspective it was simply, a fridge). My efforts proved beneficial when I got my first regular. I think it was fair to say the my Mom was satisfied with her purchase.
Week two came with a few more customers and about 10 visitors per day while the Gallery was still under renovations. It must have been the aroma of coffee in the morning and the comforting smell of whatever was cooking in the crock pot that attracted new and curious customers in the afternoon. No matter how many people were visiting the gallery, everyday was a good day.
I started every morning at security, where I unloaded my car and signed in.
"Hey Richard." - Me
"Morning Sunshine, how ya doing." - R
"Oh you know, another day." - Me
"If you're alive, it's a good day. Now let me help you with those groceries." - R
It was a mini reality check every morning. Not only was I healthy, but every morning I got to wake up and bake muffins in a restaurant's kitchen (which I had all to myself wahoo!), and then serve them beside a giant window that overlooked a beautiful Canadian forest landscape. I called it my "executive suite." My answer to "how ya doing", should have been, "I AM FREAKING AWESOME!"
By week three I had a slew of regulars including, the site manager whom I cannot imagine without a hardhat on his head and a coffee with three sugars in his hand. We served Muffin-lovers that rediscovered their appreciation for breakfast and others that just followed the scent and the demand from their stomachs. Near the end of the week I had tweaked, added and removed items from the menu to suit everyone's needs. I was also happy to see the positive response of the use of organic ingredients. Customer's were familiar with the organic ingredients and brands that were used, such as Kiju fruit juice, and appreciated the homestyle cooking.
One day during week four I sold most of my freshly baked blueberry muffins ON MY WAY to the Food Kiosk!
Week four led to Family Day which blew my apron off! There was over 500 visitors that day and most of them came hungry. Since we were the only restaurant open that day and most families traveled to see the gallery, we sold out and had to prepare fresh food using three days worth of ingredients! AMAZING! I was lucky to have a great team member working along side me or else there would have been a lot of grumpy guests.
We had our own family day when my Dad offered his assistance one Friday. My mom was thrilled to have her husband at work after 15 years of being there, and her co-workers got a kick out of his frilly poke-a-dot apron and strange sense of humour.
As an opportunist, I strive to make the most of situations on a daily basis. For the past 50 days and 50 nights I devoted my catering hands to feed the Members, Guests and Staff of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. I have met hard workers, friendly Member's and Guests of the McMichael and talented Artist's and Musicians that have been featured in the Gallery's exhibits.
I have fed travellers from all over that wanted to experience a piece of Canadian culture. My goal was to open them up to organic food options and the joy of homestyle cooking in a world of preservatives, processed and preprepared foods.
Each person may have individual tastes but everyone loves to eat delicious food made with the best ingredients.
Seven days a week for 50 days may sound like a ton of work, but it was a great opportunity and learning experience that had me doing exactly what I should be, Creating Organic, one meal at a time.