Hector Paz

Oral History Interview with Hector Paz, undertaken by Bailey Trela and Alasdair Nicholson on July 31, 2014, at the Dumbarton Oaks Refectory. At Dumbarton Oaks, Hector Paz has been Cook and Food Service Supervisor (1990 – 1993), Chef and Supervisor/Manager (1993–2012), and Executive Chef Manager (since 2012).

AN: So, it is July 31st, 2014. My name is Alasdair Nicholson. I’m here with Bailey Trela from the Dumbarton Oaks Oral History Project, and we’re joined today by Mr. Hector Paz, long-time server of Dumbarton Oaks – thank you very much for joining us today.

HP: Thank you.

AN: Just to get us started, do you mind telling us how you came to be at Dumbarton Oaks?

HP: I got a phone call October 31st, 1989 – it was a friend, and she asked me, “Would you come in tomorrow to help me?” I said, “Sure.” And I came to Dumbarton Oaks, and that was when it all started – November 1st, 1989.

AN: Jeez!

HP: So, then she – the chef that was here – she was a friend of mine, a colleague, and we had a previous business – we had sold it. So, I was at home with my little four-year-old, getting ready to go trick-or-treating, and I got the phone call, and I didn’t have anything else to do, so I showed up. She needed help because her assistant went on medical leave, and she needed somebody to – she could come and do the skills that are proper for the parties that were coming up. And the parties were very important because it was, like, the reopening of the Pre-Columbian gallery, which we did a massive, massive cocktail party for that. And then soon after that, around the same time within a month or so, it was the fiftieth anniversary for Dumbarton Oaks as an endowment to Harvard University. And the rest is history, and here I am. It was really interesting; I had just finished within the last year and a half, two years, cooking school, so you have these grandiose ideas of how things have to do, and having a small bistro – it was a little bit different of these grandiose ideas because you’re running on your own budget, not on someone else’s budget, so you have to cut down, cut down. And then walking into Dumbarton Oaks, I was in awe – the fact that we had to produce this grandiose party, and it was between basically two of us. We had the assistance, of course, of what they used to be called “The Housemen,” specifically Silvio, which was the head waiter and manager of the functions. And it was very interesting. We put out fantastic parties for those occasions, and we went into the Archives, specifically for the fiftieth anniversary of the endowment. We three searched the menus of Mrs. Bliss, and we came up with a menu that I still remember: we served smoked salmon and watercress mousse, again, then we had – for the entrée we had roast pheasant and wild rice pilaf with roast asparagus. We had mélange of greens with champagne vinaigrette. For the dessert, we made this, um – sometimes I lose terms. Spanish and English gets in the way sometimes. Meringue! Meringue swans. And we stuffed them with fresh fruits, and they were sitting on a coulis, a raspberry coulis, and it was just – and then after that then we had truffles, chocolate truffles, liqueurs with the director at that time, Angeliki Laiou – she always liked after-dinner drinks – we had after-dinner drinks passed as well. And coffee. And there was a grandiose, grandiose party. I had so much fun, it was all staged in the hallway, as you walk in, the party was held at the, in the Music Room, so there were all the round tables, they were all in white linens to the floor, white and silver and gold. White, the arrangements were white, huge, beautiful roses – Angeliki’s passion with flowers. Wonderful china, crystal, everything – it was just glistening, and everything was candle-lit. We had two waiters per table. We staged in the hallway as you come in – you know that, where they have the, the, the small exhibitions now?

AN: Yup.

HP: We placed tables there and in what it used to be the post office room we had warming boxes though, so we had all the food there. The food was produced, we made it in the old Fellows Building down on S street, so a certain time we had to have everything put together and Silvio and Luis would come in an old, old station wagon – and we would shove everything in the back, and they would drive it around to the front of the building, and we would run down the street to receive it and put it where it was. Then we got these beautiful silver trays – everything was tops. And we set up tables in that gallery area, we would plate everything, then we would arrange as many silver trays that were per table. There was a line of waiters, which Silvio hired. Most of them worked at the White House, and they were his buddies. Silvio worked at the White House and the Blair House, and it was like a drill-sergeant. We would fix the trays, we would line them up on the tables, they would walk in single file, they would stand next to the trays, Silvio would run to the top of the steps, look at the line to see if it was straight, he would give the order that would turn around, pick up the trays, prop them up, and not until he was sure that the line was straight and that everyone was ready, he would give the signal, he would turn around, he would walk towards, up the steps, around where the entrance of the Music Room is, and they would all follow. He would stay at the top of the steps, and he would see them all going into the tables. They would stand there, as long as everyone was in position, he would give the order and they would start serving. It was grandiose.

BT: Oh my gosh –

HP: It was mind-blowing. It was so much fun. [All laughing.]

BT: That’s – oh, gosh, yeah, that was – !

HP: Yeah that was my first one. Needless to say I was in awe.

BT: Yeah.

HP: The lunches in the – over there – we were in charge of the lunches, as you all know now. Though the groups were very small, very quaint, I think that the numbers were no more than thirty, thirty-five, thirty-six people. There were five tables – long tables like these ones. And people would jam in there, and they would have their interactions and their meals. Sometimes we would have the symposium right there, too, depending on the weather and when the symposiums were. Other symposiums were held, of course, in the Orangery. It was fun times. We used to have, it was old-school, so to speak, and the time that I came here, we really used silver – silver, which we had to polish every Friday afternoon. I’d have them ready for Monday. We used linens and tablecloths – I used to serve the lunches on the actual silver trays of the Blisses. We used to plate everything and put it out. I was in charge of the silver trays. I had silver; I had the original Bliss’ linens. I had the buffet table linens, which were like a mile-long. It was really interesting. Things started changing when the numbers started growing, because what we had, it was not enough to, you know, serve everybody that was coming in. And, usually, the parties for, you know, the speaker’s dinners and things like that, and sometimes even the public lecture dinners, there were small numbers, so it was easy. Other items like – I had a Tiffany serving – not serving, but – dishes, and everything from the Blisses. They had to be put away, because they got a little – they were old, and they were really pieces that are, that are part of the House Collection, and I requested for them to be put away. Once we moved from the old Fellows Building to the Refectory, I requested from James to take care of all the trays from the Blisses and everything and to put them in storage and that was the end of it, of that era, so to speak. But numbers were going to grow, and I think we should use those pieces only for special occasions, if any. So, how did I come to be the chef? My friend, she decided to move on.

BT: Was this Winnie?

HP: Winnie – she decided to move on. That was about a year and a half to two years after that, I was her assistant in old times, and after that, nobody – they didn’t say anything on who was coming in or out, and I was doing my job, like, regular, I mean, and they would just from this office – the Oval Room used to be the office, for a time, of the assistant to the Director, her name was Gay Mackintosh, and she would call me and summon me here and said, “Hey Hector,” she would throw at me this long list of all these events and, “Can you do this? Can you do that? Can you –” and I’m like, “Yes, yes, yes, yes. Fine, fine, fine, fine.” I decided at the time that many selections were not on me, they should be on Angeliki, the director. She knew who she had invited to her table; she was extremely knowledgeable about food, she – I learned so much from her, I mean – hands-on, and things I would actually add on the menus, that sometimes I was not exposed to, but see if she would like them, because that would give me the experience. And she would go for them and I would just follow through, too! So, that was really fun. We were like that, I was like the Assistant Manager, Assistant Chef for, I think, close to a year, and then nobody was coming up, and I – they called me at the beginning of the semester like around this time, you know, July, August, and they gave me all the events for the year and I just looked at them and I said, “Well, I can’t really commit myself to this, because I’m not the chef.” And they were like, silence. There was nothing. And we finished the meeting, and I got up and I left, and by the time I got to the kitchen over there the phone rang and they basically told me, “The job is yours! It has been yours.” So, since then I’ve – then I became the chef chef, that was 1992. The Head Chef. And it was learning process, still is – I mean twenty-five years later, still is. I have to thank whole-heartedly, Silvio and his crew: Tony, Mariano, Don, Rafael – all those, the old guard, those guys knew how to deal with everything. And I was the young buck, walking in, blinded by everything that I’m looking at, and not really – having the skills, but not necessarily knowing how the flow had to be done. And they just took me under their wing, and it was funny because, in the middle of the parties, Silvio would come – he’s in charge of the floor, and everything, and he would just go in his Italian accent, “Quickly, quickly!” and I would scream at him, “Slowly, slowly!” [All laughing.]

HP: I wanted perfection in the platters; he wanted perfection as well, but much faster. And I would always tell him, “Don’t rush me. Perfection needs time.” And it was fun. It was an interesting, interesting working situation. My assistant then became Lilly Guillén  – she used to be the dishwasher when I came here, and she used to do the bedrooms upstairs. We used to be five or six working at the Fellows Building. We had Fellows and scholars staying with us at the Fellows Building, staying with us upstairs, in the bedrooms. They would come and go, and I would know who was coming; every month I would get a list of who was coming for what term or what, under what, which circumstances, and which rooms they were assigned to, and she used to take care of that. When she was placed as my assistant, we just went to town, I mean, it was lots of fun, because we could create a lot of different things that have not necessarily been done here in Dumbarton Oaks, so here goes – I’m a little fragmented, I’m going to bring you back to the rooms upstairs. We had a housekeeper, it was Lilly, then Linda came, she was hired as a part-timer, and she would do all the rooms upstairs. The rooms were changed. I was in charge of the linens, the furnishings, everything upstairs. And then we had the professors that would come, and then every summer we would have a parade of the old guard of the professors. We would have Professor Grierson, we would have Professor, Mr. Browning, we would have Professor, the Greek gentleman, I can’t remember his name right now but, and we kept their suitcases. So, we kept in one of the closets – we used to keep their suitcases for when they would come to visit us. So, we would get this note – I would get this note, “Professor Grierson will arrive on June first” so I would immediately tell Lilly, “The professors – Professor Grierson is coming.” She knew right away. She went upstairs, she got his bag, and she would sit it at the, in the bed. And we never went into it, that was his stuff, that was private. The Greek professor, Professor Oikonomides, we had all, like, five or six suitcases, and they would come, basically, from Europe, and they would stay with us for the summertime. They would teach, they would read, they would do their studies, everything. It was very interesting, a really different kind of atmosphere. The last one of the professors that stayed with us was Professor Grierson, with – meaning suitcase-wise. Then after that we made a transition to the Refectory, and of course things changed. Let me see, what else,– oh! Behind the – these are little tidbits, that I’m – they’re coming up –

BT: No, they’re good!

HP: Behind the Fellows Building, we had chestnuts trees –

AN: Ooh!

HP: – in the parking lot. So, in the mornings we would go out and we would fight the squirrels, Lilly and I, to get the chestnuts, and then we – Silvio would come in and show us how to open the – you know they’re really prickly and they can hurt your hands. So, he showed us, “Put them –” They were on the ground, and we would roll them with our feet, and they would pop, so would take then, the nuts, and we would bring them upstairs and we would get a little tray, and we would roast them and we’d eat that. But then the rest, we would roast them, and then I’d put them in brandy or cognac and I would save them for the holidays, to do the parties, and to do, you know, the different events that we would have, so that was something that was done here. When I came here, the garden – we had a kitchen garden – in the gardens, and luckily enough here we have, a new one, again. In the mornings, when the head of the gardens, Mr. Smith, Don Smith, would call us and said “The best basil is ready to be picked! It’s going to go to flower.” So we would, between Lilly, there was another lady, Dulce, she was the dishwasher, and I, we would take baskets, and it was like little red riding hood and the big bad wolf coming down the lanes, and we would go through the dell and walk through and we would go all the way in the gardens really early in the morning. We’d clip all the basil and any other herbs that were available, and we would bring them to the kitchen and we would use them during the day, and luckily now, I mean, twenty years later, here we are again using produce and things like that that are from the gardens, which is a great, great thing. It’s like bounty for me, every morning when they come in with this huge basket, it’s great. So, we used to use the – we used to have activities that were not necessarily part of Dumbarton Oaks at the Fellows Building. The Fellows would make dinners, and they would invite us, and we would come at night, and it was a potluck, and everyone would cook a little bit. And we would have great meals there and parties, sometimes they would like to have, like, parties for different occasions, like Halloween, or a Fourth of July cookout, and they would request to use stuff from the kitchen. They were not allowed to go in the kitchen, per se, it was like a two-kitchen situation, you would walk on in to a regular household kitchen, that they would have two for their use. They can buy whatever groceries they wanted, and they had refrigerators and things like that. And then behind that it was the big, commercial kitchen, and they would request from me like plates and silver glasses and everything, and I would provide them everything, with the condition that they had to have everything the same that I gave them to them, the same way I wanted them back. I wanted them clean, I gave them the trash bags, I showed them everything. Then there was one particular party that I was invited and couldn’t come, it was the Halloween party, one of them. Two weeks later, I was shown the pictures – when I walked in on Monday there was, the building looked beautiful. Then two weeks later I saw the pictures. The furnishings of the first floor of the Fellows Building were outside, in the driveway, and it was like an outside living room, and the dining rooms were on the side, like going down, like in a terrace, and there were all partaking. And inside the person, the Fellow that was in charge, he took all these leaves of all these colors, and covered the floor, all the wooden floors with all these leaves, and everybody got dressed up for Halloween, and I’m sorry I missed that party. [Laughing] I’m sorry I missed that party, it was lots of fun. I mean, I was, I enjoyed the pictures so much, but behind my, in my head, I was just like “I’m so glad that the Fellows Building is still standing after that.” I think they just would have hanged me if anything would have happened, because in those times it was very, you know, not necessarily prudent to do that, but they had a ball. And that was the important thing, for the Fellows to have a fun time, too. So, there was a lot of different interactions over there, because it was smaller, it was a little bit more quaint. The fact that we were in the middle – the kitchen basically was in the middle of the building, and everyone coming and going, even though we were so remote from the actual main building, everybody eventually went there, and it was, it was great.

We lost a few members of the staff in the – before we moved to the Refectory, for medical reasons. We lost others, because of retirement. So, once I said the transitioning to the Refectory was, well, it was a little hard for the only two members of the staff that were left, which was basically Lilly and I, adjusting to the fact that the kitchen was downstairs, and we were not in the middle of the action, so to speak, and it took a while for us to get – not into the routine – but get used to it. Lilly – a few years ago she retired, and I was the only one left of the whole entire group, I am the only one left. The Housemen are gone, and I remember when I came here thinking “I mean these people are here fifteen, twenty years, and, I mean they must be crazy.” And here I am sitting with twenty-five. But I do understand the reason why they were here, I understand the reason that I am here now, for such a long time. There’s still some professors and some Fellows that are still, they come, everybody comes, it’s like a revolving door – I don’t like to say goodbye to any that come to the kitchen or to – that I have interactions, because I know that someway, somehow, I will see them again. Either via emails or via phone call or just coming as a guest of somebody, or just popping in, and it’s great, because they ask, they ask, I feel very honored, the fact that they ask for me – I mean they don’t ask for the cook, really, but they do. And they have requested to see me at lunchtime, sometimes I’m so busy downstairs, because of so many different events, that is very hard for me to go upstairs, but I’m making an effort to at least be seen, and I know, I mean you guys, you will all come back.

AN: We hope to.

HP: In one form or whatever you’ll be here, and they, if they still keep me, I will be here, too. So, anything else that you would like to, or that you had heard, or anything about that?

BT: Oh gosh, that was – we definitely, yeah, there are certainly questions to ask, that was just so – that just covered so much stuff, yeah. Gosh, let’s see. I guess just, if you could comment on, because obviously there’s this huge tradition of food service at Dumbarton Oaks. You’ve talked a lot about that, but I was wondering how you balanced working within this tradition you talked about going to the Archives and finding the old recipes and things, with, you know, adding your own style or new foods or experimenting.

HP: I was trained classically French, which really helped, I mean, the fact that I could just fall back on those techniques and those basics – it is fine. When I came here with Angeliki, Angeliki was very traditional, very – as the term, loosely using – very “old school,” so to speak, which was fine, because that was my basis. The difference really changed on my likings, but basically who the director interim is. So, when the directors come in, I have to start wondering what are the food likes and dislikes. I need to start, kind of, putting out menus for activities and just trying to figure out a way, what are the likes and dislikes. With Angeliki, it was traditional, we had some interim directors in between, and they were more classic. Once Mr. and Mrs. Keenan came, the fare changed. It was not so European, it was more American fare. So, that moved me from – to a more, a lighter fare, more, not too much out there as of nouvelle cuisine and things like that, but much lighter. Now we have Jan and his wife, and they are just as great. I mean, I love the fact that they are all so different, because they give me the opportunity, and they are – it’s a very different style, so I have to adjust to their likes when it comes to their meals and their events and who they’re going to be serving. And I always – my whole motto, and I think I’ve mentioned it already, they know who are the people they are going to be serving. I don’t. I just present them with menus and they pick and choose, and we just pick them apart until we zero onto one, and I then I move on from there, because the actual Director and his wife are younger than previous directors. I can take a little bit more risk, as of doing certain things, being a little bit more forefront, more nouvelle, more simple – not simple dinners, but lighter and really interesting, and they’re more than willing to take risks, which is great. Five, six, seven years, a year from now, who knows who’s going to walk in, so I need to adjust depending on who’s coming in. The same goes for the lunches; the lunches, since it’s a broader community, I have to consider the old guard and the newcomers. And it is a matter of, like, beginning of semester, the beginning of the semester, I usually start with something very safe, very not-threatening to a lot of people, so we go with the chicken and a few little salads, and something really that – it’s just, I start warming them up into, and then by the end of the semester we have the curries and the this and the that. I need to judge what they like or not. Like yesterday’s menu, we had all those, the tamales, call me ten years, fifteen years, selling tamales to this crew then, it was just like, “Oh no! Never!” But now, the population that is coming to Dumbarton Oaks has been exposed, okay? And in the past we used to get Fellows from the, from Russia and from all these countries that have never seen some of the stuff, I mean to the point that one day I walked into Safeway and I saw this lady just standing there just in awe, just looking around at – and I went to her, and I think, I can’t remember her name, and I asked her, “Are you okay? Can I help you?” because I knew she was a Fellow. She said, “No, Hector, I’m fine, I’m just surprised to see so much in a store.” So, she has never seen the variety and the amount that a store here in the States has compared to what their countries must be. So, I have to be very careful, too; I have people who have never seen eggplants before. I have people who have never seen pineapple before. So, I try to – I know them, because of where – a little bit that I read of their background, and where they’re coming, and I try to introduce them to – and that’s how I use salads, a lot of salads, too, because I can introduce ingredients that they might not know, but they could enjoy. Jicama is popular here now, I mean, it’s known in the States now, because the influx of the Latino community, but not necessarily the Europeans, so you need to enlighten them that way. So, I use food as a means of bringing them to other horizons, so to speak, enlighten them. So, if that answers your question?

BT: No – absolutely, I didn’t realize there was that whole diplomacy and behind-the-scenes going on.

HP: I try to, I try to please everybody, I really do. And I really don’t want them to feel uptight or unwelcome, and I try to put food out there that really comes from their background as much as I can do. I’m not an expert on anything, but I try to bring a little home to them, to make them feel, “Ooh, good! Finally I can eat whatever is in the plate, and it reminds me of home.” So.

BT: Yeah, I guess, backtracking a little bit, but, I had read in a couple other interviews that the kitchen in the Fellows Building was kind of falling apart almost, what the situation there was – describe that.

HP: When I walked into the kitchen, it was really little – I mean I was used to huge, commercial kitchens, and even though in my bistro it was small, but it was upgraded. We had two ovens, none convection, everything had to be cooked at five hundred degrees, because there was no other degrees – it was fast and furious, and watch out, because it’s going to burn. And there were nine eyes on the stove, but only two worked; there was a gridle that I never could get started, and after a while it got, I got a little concerned that it would blow up, so I let it go. And we had one refrigerator and one freezer and we have these old vegetable drawers that you have to be very careful opening, because, you were at risk of chopping off your toes, because it would fall on the floor. But, you know, I think that being happy of having a job in such a wonderful place, it didn’t phase me, and I was young and, in a ways naïve, and we produce as much as we could out of those two eyes and one and a half oven and no griddle, so to speak. So, we could just do whatever we could, it was fun. Oh one thing I just remembered – we used to have fresh flowers on the tables every Monday, and on Wednesdays they would come in and they would change them, and they would put fresh ones – I’m sorry.

AN: That’s beautiful.

HP: That was something that was done.

BT: That’s a nice touch, yeah.

HP: Yeah, yeah. From the gardens, so. But yeah, it was very trying, the kitchen. We found out soon after we moved to our new and improved facilities that they went and they took out all the old stove and everything, and I saw them carting them out to the dumpster, and I was all heart-broken. Then they went in and the floor caved in – bloomp. I was like, “We were lucky that we were still in one piece!” you know. The whole kitchen – it was fun.

BT: Oh gosh. I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about socialization amongst the scholars and the Fellows and things that you had observed, and how that might have changed from the Fellows Building to the Refectory. I know you talked – the kitchen, you felt removed –

HP: In the other building, we had a delivering room. The deliver was set up that there would – I would get the paper, and in the morning, so we’d have their continental breakfast, and the Fellows would sit and they would read the paper, or something like that, or the people who were staying at the building. But at lunchtime we used to put the coffee out there, and in the living room, and we had little demi-tasse cups and little sugar cubes, and we had the little silver, little tongues for the sugar – it was the cutest little thing. But anyways – but after they would have the lunch, it was so cramped in the dining room that they would turn around and they would go into the living room and they would have the coffee over there with cookies or whatever that would read or they would interact and there was a lot of interaction, not only within their same department, but within the various departments, which was what they led me believe that was the reason why the dining room was made for – for the exchange of ideas – and once we were told that we were going to move to the Refectory, I requested for the library to remain exactly the same as it was, because I wanted to use that room to mimic the living room of the old building, the Fellows Building, as a gathering point, to have your coffee, to have, to sit down, exchange ideas. And interestingly enough, it didn’t – it was hard for people to go in there for some reason, and it was dumb of me, ‘till Jan brought me into the light and said, “How about moving the coffee over there, Hector?” and it was like [clicking sound], “I should have done that already, right – that’s what is missing!” So, immediately I ran to the Refectory, I moved everything over there, and I started bringing people into that room. And one of the oldest Fellows that are here, Professor Shahîd, Mr. Shahîd and Mrs. Shahîd, now go in there and sit and they tell me, “We love sitting here. Reminds me of the old Fellows Building,” because they liked to sit there, they liked to have their cookie and their coffee and everything there, and people are starting to, you know, trickle in there in and out, in and out. So, once I get my logs for the fireplace, then we will have fuel – the fireplace used to work in the Fellows Building, and we used to have fires at lunchtime.

BT: Oh god –

HP: Over there, yeah. And when we moved to the Refectory, I requested for the fireplace to be used, but to be turned into gas, and they put in the gas, and the gas is there, but they never have supplied with the logs and everything is in isolation. Because nobody, I mean,  you have to have a plumber and everything, and I mention that I revisit that with my new supervisor, and he said, “It’s noted.” So, I’m hoping that by the fall, I have new logs and we can have a fire during the cold days, when the season comes, because it’s just homey.

BT: Ooh, yeah, I assume it would be. That would be nice. Hmm.

AN: Obviously you’ve cooked, you know, so many different meals at Dumbarton Oaks – lunches, dinners, special occasions, is there any one that was – was there a most difficult meal, almost challenging to put together?

HP: Wow. I think that it was challenging, but we as a staff embraced the challenge, and we enjoyed it, and I’m going back to the fiftieth anniversary, and how – so, it was challenging, we’re going to be coming back to the three eye and the five hundred degree ovens, and that we didn’t have the space for all those people, for us to do the prep work. So, now the side of the east cottage of the Fellows Building, there’s a terrace, the handicapped one, the handicapped apartment – in that little terrace, I sat and I plucked every single pheasant, because in those days they came with feathers, and I plucked and plucked and plucked and plucked, and tell me it was challenging, yes! But, I mean, it was challenging, but once the production was done, and we finished, Angeliki came and thanked us, and then escorted us to the Music Room, and we had a standing ovation. And that was more than payment: it was challenging but beautiful. Ooh, I have goose bumps! I remember that, it was fun. Yup.

BT: Interesting. Well, I just – is it next year that is the seventy-fifth anniversary at – are you guys planning ahead for that, or are you?

HP: I’ve heard rumors about something going on, but I don’t know what if, if I’m going to be involved in any way or form, I don’t have anything.

BT: Nothing concrete at this point.

HP: Nothing that I have heard or anything. Now things have changed so much that now there are other positions that have been created through the years, to actually support the demands that, maybe I might not be. I mean, I know that they might be coming with caterers and things like that, so, I understand, you know, I’m just in the Refectory, and I’m fine with that. Yeah.

BT: Interesting, well I guess – everything you’ve said has been so wonderful and just covered so much, but I guess to do more, kind of, banal stuff, just if you could kind of describe a typical day, the typical routine for you?

HP: At the old Fellows Building or –?

BT: If you want to do that but then, yeah, today as well.

HP: Well it hasn’t changed much. I, when I came here, there were no suppliers, no wholesale suppliers would come in and sell here, at all. So, everything had to be purchased through local markets – Safeway, and any other. There was a French market down the street on Wisconsin Avenue, and things like that, and there was the fish market, so I had to do a lot of running around, so I would come very early, very, very early, and I would just start making different stops in different stores, depending on their openings, and depending on their menus that was for that day. At that time we didn’t post menus the way that I do now, the whole week’s menus and things like that, because things were so iffy, that I didn’t know if I put that I was going to make chicken today and tomorrow’s going to be fish, I don’t know if I was going to find the fish or not, and I was competing with all the restaurants in the area, that they were just taking over everything. And I was just, I was not known in the Georgetown, you know, ins and outs of the chefs and embassies and things like that. We know each other when we go to stores – we can identify who we are, and who we worked for. But I was brand new, so I would just get here at the latest, six o’clock in the morning, and I would start with Safeway, and I would go then to the other different markets, and in the noontime I would just – I would come in and drop the bags and Lilly would be there at seven o’clock in the morning, which was my assistant, and she would come with the whole little, old cart that I still have, and we would put all the bags there, and she would – and we would roll the car all the way to the back, and I would just say, “I’ll be back” I mean to go to the market, to go to the French market, to pick up patés, for example, or something like that – cornichons – and I would just go. I would try to come back no later than seven thirty, eight o’clock, then by then the breakfast would be set, and we would sit with a cup of coffee, or something like that, and we would discuss what lunch was going to be, and whatever we needed to get ahead and start and things like that. When I came here, I decided that I was not going to save leftovers for the sake of it, I would always serve them, because at home, you always eat leftovers, first of all – and second, if you don’t like what I cook today, you would like what I cooked yesterday, you can have some of yesterday. I felt like mom and dad were telling me, you know, behind the back of my head. But it has always been my tradition to offer as much as possible, and why, putting something in the refrigerator, and I heard there was a chef here, Mrs. Everson, that was a – everybody used to talk to me, “Mrs. Everson was the best chef here.” I could not step to her toes, not even close to her ankles, Mrs. Everson was like, “Ta-daaah!” I should aim to wherever she was standing – she would serve all her leftovers on Friday, and I refused to do that. So, no, leftovers are going to be the day after, if they’re gone, they’re gone. Once they’re gone, that’s it, but I need to see, I need to offer options. I cannot waste food; it should not be done, so that’s how we would put out, that’s how you see the leftovers or whatever from the previous day.

BT: Well, this has been really great. Thank you. Is there anything you can think of that we haven’t covered, I mean, that you would like to talk about?

HP: No. I think we got through all the questions. I hope everything’s been clear.

BT: Yes, great. Thanks again.

HP: Thank you.

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