I had the honor of being invited to a private dinner prepared and hosted by a group of “foodies” working at Wegmans. I can’t remember an evening I enjoyed more. These truly passionate food professionals formed an informal club of like-minded foodies to gather and explore their culinary talents with exotic ingredients and flavors from around the globe. For the sheer joy of food, and the experience of creating and enjoying it, this group converted the community room of a residential complex into a fine dining bistro, complete with linens, table centerpieces and glassware. I felt like this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I was looking around for the secret cameras from some reality TV show.
The menu rivaled any fine dining restaurant in Rochester:
- Wild Mushroom Tortellini
- Ravioli Carbonara
- Roasted Sunchoke Salad
- Hamachi With Sake Poached Oyster
- Trio of Rabbit
- Lemon Tart
All served with Fingerlakes wines and craft beers.
The night was an amazing experience. I enjoy exploring food and was thrilled to take this journey with our chefs. Watching this group execute with perfection, and have fun doing it, was delightful. We were treated to foods I might never have tried, as well as amazing creations from familiar ingredients.
Why do I want you to know about this evening? We often pass the food preparation staff at Wegmans and don’t appreciate what professionals are amongst them. Some have culinary degrees, fine dining chef experience or owned restaurants in the past. Wegmans is a leading employer whose benefits, competitive pay and work schedules are attractive to many who are looking for more stability than the razor-thin profit margins than independently owned and operated food establishments can offer. Some of the people you see are actually franchise owners, operating a business within Wegmans. I work with some of these people in my own practice and I can’t emphasize the experienced culinary talents these people possess.
The staff is not comprised solely of high school and college students working part time jobs. Many are full-time staff with amazing backgrounds. Next time you have a question about how to prepare certain meats or vegetables, ask them. Get to know them. They are one of Rochester’s best kept secrets.