This week is the saddest week I can remember at EVOO since I started working there a year and a half ago. Donnie, our lunchtime sous-chef, is leaving.
Donnie was one of the first people I met at EVOO, and I was absolutely terrified of him. He is incredibly meticulous in everything he does, and tried to make everyone around him pay attention to details. As this was my first kitchen job, this meant that Donnie was constantly showing me how to do things differently and better, which intimidated me. At the end of the night, a stovetop was not considered clean if he could find one tiny bit of black somewhere it didn’t belong. Although these were all things that scared me at first, I’m now happy that he showed me everything he did, as it has made me far better at my job. Looking back at the beginning I actually find it funny that of all people I was afraid of Donnie- although he points out things he sees being done wrong, it’s never “you’re doing that wrong” and always “why don’t you try it this way instead. It’s better if you do it this way, do you understand why?”. If something isn’t understood at first he makes sure that he does all he can to make you fully comprehend the reasons for doing things a certain way.
After 5 years of working at EVOO, and despite much kicking and screaming from those of us he’s leaving behind, Donnie is moving home to Pittsburgh with his family. As sad as we all are to see him go, he has made the fantastic decision that he wants to be a teacher- a decision that no one can really argue with. Of all the people I’ve ever worked with, Donnie is the best instructor I’ve ever crossed paths with (come to think of it, he’s probably a better instructor that the majority of teachers and professors I’ve had as well). When I asked him why he wants to teach instead of cook, Donnie shrugged his shoulders, said “because I want to save the world”, and laughed. It makes it harder to be upset about him being gone from our lives knowing that he’s going to be making a difference in kids’ lives, and that he’ll be able to concentrate more on his family.
EVOO will certainly not be the same without him, but we all wish him the best in the future. I suppose it will be like the dawning of a new era, and it will be interesting to see the way things unfold.