Day Of The Locusts

Are you a fan of the zombie cult movies?  Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead?  What about the spoofs?  Return of the Living Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland?  I love those movies.  There’s some show on television about zombies that I’ve never seen because I reject cable TV.  I can’t take the commercials.

For every seven minutes of programming there are three minutes of commercials; so a 30 minute show actually lasts 21 minutes and I have to endure 9 minutes of monotonous and repetitive advertising.  I can’t do it!

Every time I walk into a Sam’s or a Wal-Mart I am accosted by someone selling Direct TV, or a similar service.  I tell them “No thanks, I can’t take the commercials”.  Their well-prepared defense is that their product comes with a DVR with which I can fast forward through the commercials thereby avoiding them.  Then I point out that even so I’m still watching commercials, just faster.  No good!

Generally speaking I also don’t care for horror movies.  When you think about it in a classical sense there are two major categories of horror movies–the first being that where the antagonist is a deranged or otherwise darkly represented human (or non-human) that kills for fun or sport.  With the exception of the occasional cannibal, these figures either eat normal food, or don’t eat at all in the course of the storyline.

The second category is comprised of stories in which the “bad guy” is a human or perhaps an animal of sorts that kills or maims for food.  This type of story pertains most recognizably to vampires, werewolves, and zombies–all of which have the gift (or curse as it were) of eternal life.

In any horror movie there is almost always blood.  Blood is food to vampires, but vampire stories aren’t about food.  They are about romance and eternal life.  I don’t want to live forever.

Werewolves occasionally consume the flesh of their prey, but the main purpose of the attack is to produce terror in the community and also to extend the werewolf legacy, thereby perpetuating the species for unknown reasons.

Zombie movies however aren’t about romance, they aren’t about self-perpetuation, and they really aren’t about horror.  No, zombie movies are about food!

Zombies eat flesh and brains, and their various anecdotes and adventures are about acquiring the aforementioned treats!  What is the purpose?  Well, they seem to already have everlasting life, and they don’t seem to want it anymore than I do.  They aren’t romantic.  In fact love and sex seem nonexistent in the zombie realm.  But zombies do appear to get hungry, and living human flesh apparently eases the pain of their miserable and unsolicited immortality.

In 1986 a movie was made in my own hometown of Charlotte, NC called “Goremet Zombie Chef From Hell”.  The IMDB synopsis explains the plot in which, “A cannibal opens up a seafood restaurant, and kills and cooks people to serve to his customers.”  Now that’s a story I can sink my teeth into!  It’s a terrible movie by the way, but it was made in the make-shift kitchen of my favorite bar at the time, Smokey Joe’s.  I don’t remember a zombie flick ever being nominated for anything!

So I was thinking that if I were to make a horror movie that centered around food I would call it Day Of The Locusts*, and it would be inspired by 72 hours of my life as the Executive Chef of a university dining facility during the first week of the fall semester.

We buy marinara sauce in #10 cans (about three quarts each, six to a case), and we normally go through 3-4 cases per day.  On the Monday of the first week of class we went through nine!  Tuesday morning we made about 15 gallons, and it was gone by the end of lunch–and that was just marinara sauce.

The blinding speed and precision with which we diminished our stock, and the stress and chaos that ensued as the result is enough to make a woman cry and a grown man set down his tongs and head for the door.

One dishwasher was in tears most of the morning.  The rest were speechless.

My sous chef walked out, never to return until a few days later to collect a pay check.  Would’ve been a nice time to have had direct deposit!

There were plates from one end of the dish room to the other–more plates than we actually have I believe.  Used food, straws, and fruit punch soaked napkins were strewn to and fro and piled ankle-deep on floors and counters.  Blood and sweat and soap adorned the walls and doorways.

The exhibition station cooks begged for mercy while grinding out enough General Tso’s Chicken to feed the Chinese army!  Pizza cooks made enough pizzas to make the happy California cows fricking miserable.  College kids who have never even seen soy milk slurped their way through over 15 gallons, and I can’t get more for another week.  We doubled our selection of delicious cereals this year, and record amounts of it was depleted (probably with soy milk).

Deli workers sliced and stacked nearly 350 pounds of ham and turkey, and most of it was gone when the smoke cleared.  I don’t remember ever seeing the salad bar completely filled up all day…but then again I also don’t remember seeing the salad bar.  There’s no telling how many gallons of soup we went through, or did we even get around to making soup?

I think that by the latter portion of Tuesday’s dinner the grill was serving anything they could find and calling it a hamburger.  Locusts don’t care, they just keep their heads down and eat–much like zombies.

The morning of Day Three found me at Sam’s Club picking up eggs to get through breakfast until our delivery truck could make it there 2 hours late.  And I honestly don’t see what anyone, especially teenagers, sees in boiled eggs, but we served nearly 45 dozen in two days (plus another 36 dozen on the salad bar)!

The same day our bakers produced 28 key lime pies, a dozen or more chocolate Bavarian cakes, at least another dozen strawberry cakes, and 8 cases of cookies where we usually use 3.  An hour after they left I put out four pies and four cakes that we had frozen for emergencies (this was one).  The following morning there wasn’t so much as a crumb or a smudge of icing left.

In the first three days of the week we served 15,221 meals!

Oddly enough we had hardly any catering for the week, though we had over 70 events during the previous week as various departments prepared for the new school year and broke in their new budgets.

I’m out of uniforms, shoes, aprons, and cut-gloves.  I’ve had three different special deliveries this week, and my body hurts.  I feel like a zombie, and I’ve subsisted for three days on ice cream, pie, cookies, and creme brulee.

I take that back, I did hide in our retail manager’s office on Wednesday to try the newly added Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Chick Fil A.  While I was trying my best to enjoy it despite the repugnant odor of a “Plug-In” air freshener that I have rebuked repeatedly, I was told that our extremely pregnant administrative assistant (for whom I have the highest regard) had lost her “mucus plug” that morning.  Great!  So now I have my belly in knots, my nerves on edge, my mouth full of spicy chicken and pepper jack cheese, my nose filled with the obnoxious scent of a sickeningly sweet synthetic flower of some sort, and then fate comes along and fills my mind’s eye with the image of a ball of bloody snot falling out of the poor girl’s vagina.  Thanks!

The food business isn’t always pretty folks!

All in all however I have to say (and have said quite emphatically) that it was a wildly successful opening.  I have the best staff that I’ve had yet in four school years, and I’m looking forward to growing into the rest of the season.

In 1915 a plague of locusts decimated Palestine and Jerusalem.  For eight months millions, perhaps billions of locusts fed on everything in sight until there was nothing left.  The aftermath was social and economic ruin for quite some time afterwards.  It was a world event.

Quatrain #85 from the 5th Century of Nostradamus’ writings mentions locusts, gnats, and Geneva.  I’m not entirely sure what it all means, but we probably had 85 different employees that worked during the first three days of this week, and we do have a bit of a gnat problem in areas.  All I know of Geneva is coffee, banks, watches, and chocolate.  We have two of the four readily available in our facility at all times, and I do own a Swiss watch.  Could this really be the End of Days?

Tuesday I ordered 18 cases of marinara sauce, and Thursday I interviewed a potential new sous chef.

It’s gonna be a good year!

* Unrelated to the Depression Era novel, or the 1975 movie based upon the same.