Cold Kitchen, Warm Heart: An interview with Shana Wallace about her position as a Kitchen Worker in Commons

Shana Wallace, a Sophomore, started working in the Cold Kitchen at the beginning of Fall semester this year. She decided to apply for the job because she had “only heard glowing reviews about working in the back kitchens of Commons” and when she found a shift that could fit into her schedule on the Student Employment Office, she decided it was the perfect time to snag the consistently lauded job.

For Shana, working in the Commons kitchen is the perfect job. “All of high school, I had the insane pleasure of working in a cupcake bakery. I’m a total foodie and working/preparing food relaxes me and I thought this would be a great outlet.” The application process was simple and easy. Shana just had to fill out a form online, have a meeting with Darlene Zupancic and then do a tour of the kitchens so she would know where everything is.

As a Kitchen Worker at Commons, Shana’s primary tasks are cutting up fruits and vegetables and helping prep all of the bagged lunches or catering orders. “So, my normal day consists of using lots of weird mini medieval torture looking devices to cut up food. I then make many, many visits to the huge, walk-in refrigerator.” Shana works for 5 hours a week in the kitchen.

Shana says her favorite part of the job is definitely the people. “I have not met one person who hasn’t be totally lovely to me–and almost everyone is hilarious, too. I really love getting to know the people behind the swinging doors”. Shana takes enjoyment in her work knowing the people she’s surrounded by are also working hard and enjoying their work. “Also, sometimes my boss gives me cookies!” Shana adds.

Although her current job does not have to do with what Shana eventually want to pursue as a career (“I’m an ES major whose aspirations are to do anything and everything, as far as work is concerned, with the ocean and marine animals”), Shana believes she’ll always want to work with food in some sense. “I’ve learned a lot of really good knife skills which, I’m sure, will be handy at some point in the future if I ever want to do more food-related things.” Shana also has learned a lot about how to think on her feet, deal with problems “and how to be pleasant in the early morn’” which is beneficial to both her and her co-workers, considering how skilled Shana has become with knives.

Even if she’s not planning on being a famous chef in the future, Shana realizes a lot of what she has learned can be applied to any kind of job. “The ability to work effectively and carefully even when you’re grumpy or have a long day ahead of you is incredibly valuable.” Adding to this, Shana says this job helped her realize that “even if I’m really, really tired or have pulled an all-nighter the night before, if I’m surrounded by funny, kind people, I can still somehow manage to be a functional, helpful worker early in the morning. It’s nice to know.”