Preparing Dinner in the Dining Car
The dining car kitchen is one
of the most interesting features of the modern passenger train.
Here is where all those delicious steaks and chops and broilers
and vegetables and fruits and salads served in the dining car
Many persons have wondered how it is possible for the railroad
to prepare excellent meals for a trainload of passengers in a
dining car kitchen smaller even than the kitchen of the average
home. The secret is that the dining car kitchen has been designed
with great care so as to get the maximum use out of every foot
of space. There is a place for everything, and everything must
be in its place.
The kitchen takes up a little less than one-fourth of the dining
car. It is fitted with a large cooking range, a steam table to
keep the food hot until served, electric mixers, refrigerators
for meats and dairy products, coffee urns, cabinets, cupboards
and shelves for dishes, silverware and kitchen utensils. Overhead
electric exhaust fans keep the kitchen ventilated.
At one end of the kitchen are drainboards, service tables and
an electric dishwasher. At the other end of the kitchen, nearest
the dining room, is the pantry. Here are refrigerators and chill
boxes for salad materials, cold dishes, ices, ice cream and other
food which must be kept cold-all ready to be tastily arranged
in dishes and served by the waiters.
The dining car steward is in charge of the entire dining car,
including the kitchen. Directly in charge of the kitchen is the
chef, who is a master of the culinary art, familiar with the preparation
of all sorts of dishes. Nothing leaves the kitchen which fails
to meet his discriminating approval. On an important run, where
many meals are served, the chef usually has three assistants to
help prepare the food. One man cooks the meats, another prepares
the vegetables, and a third man makes up the salads, desserts
and cold plates. Within the broad range of their larder, these
men can prepare almost any desired dish on short order. They are
always glad to prepare special dishes for patrons who are "on
a diet," or for the sick, or for infants and small children
who cannot eat the regularly prepared dishes listed on the dining
When meals are being served, waiters are constantly coming
and going, placing orders with the chef and carrying away trays
of dishes as rapidly as they are made ready for serving. At such
times, the dining car kitchen presents a busy scene.
Careful study and planning are required to keep a railroad's
fleet of dining cars fully equipped at all times. The railroads
maintain commissaries at important terminals, stocked with provisions
and supplies of all kinds, and equipped with refrigerators for
the storage of meats, eggs, fish, butter, cheese, and other articles
which must be kept cold. Expert buyers are employed by the railroads
to purchase meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, fruits, vegetables,
and other provisions.
Products from nearly every state in the Union are purchased
by the railroads for use in dining cars.
Each dining car carries about 1,900 articles of table and kitchenware
and 3,600 pieces of linen. Thousands of pieces of linen a year
must be laundered for each dining car.
Before a dining car starts on a trip, its kitchen must be stocked
with sufficient supplies to provide for any reasonable number
of meals which it might be called upon to serve until it reaches
another supply terminal. This calls for careful and intelligent
planning to avoid wastage and unnecessary cost and also to avoid
Railway dining cars, lunch-counter cars and buffet cars, as
well as many railroad restaurants, are operated under the direction
of a dining-car superintendent.
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