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Preparing Dinner in the Dining Car Kitchen

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 are prepared.

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 car menu.

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 shortages.

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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