People of Eastern: A friendly conversation with kitchen supervisor Maurice Simmons

By: Christian Lengkeek

Waltonian | The Waltonian The sign for the Dining Commons where Maurice works. Source: Jayme Fisher

I first met Maurice Simmons on the platform of the Radnor stop of the P&W line. It was sometime after 9:30, and the train was late. Since we both had nothing to do we began talking. Right away, I found out he worked at Dining Commons, and so I immediately asked many of the questions I had always wanted to ask Dining Commons employees. Afterward, I thought it would be interesting to get together and have an actual interview. 

“My job at the DC is to supervise, to make sure that everyone that is at a station or wherever they are positioned knows what to do and if they need help,” Simmons said. “I am not one of those supervisors who is going to stand around and watch you struggle. I am here for my team.”

Simmons’ involvement in his team’s work started off from a smaller position, where he knows the work it takes to help run the kitchen.

“I started off as a dishwasher/line server,” Simmons said. “That was my first three months of working here. Then summertime came and they liked what I was doing. When the summer camps were here, they took me out of the dish room and made me a supervisor.”

While many may complain about the food at the DC and the people in charge, Simmons is still a person behind his uniform. His favorite part of working in the DC is that he gets to eat, and his favorite meal is getting a burger off the grill. He appreciates a good meal and tries his best to provide that for the school.

“You don’t like what you don’t like,” Simmons said. “I can try to make you like it, but there is always going to be something in the DC someone doesn’t like. And some of it is out of our hands. We had one incident where we didn’t have any peanut butter, and people were complaining about that, and there was nothing we could do about it. Because of allergies, we couldn’t order certain things with peanuts and tree nuts, and you know, peanut butter has peanuts in it. So we couldn’t order it, but people talk to the school and my boss and we got it cleared up. But some things — like we serve too much pork — I can’t control that. The cooks plan the menu. We just cook it.”  

Just like the peanut butter fiasco, Simmons also has foods he’d like to see in the DC. He said, “I would like more turkey. I love turkey. We don’t get much turkey. We get it like once in a blue moon, like once a week. The rest of the time it’s just pork and chicken. I think if we had more to the menu, more people would come in.” 

On the flip side, I asked him what we do that annoys him, and he said, “Well we have four items, and you tell us what you want one by one when you could tell us that you want it all or that you want the first three. That just burns. Also, when students leave their plates on the table. That’s another one. Those are the main two.”

But beyond the barricade between the DC and Eastern students, Simmons chooses to come here and loves Eastern in the same way we all do. He plans on continuing to work here and enjoy all that Eastern has to offer.

“Alright, right now, if I wasn’t talking with you, I would be sitting over there messing with the turtles,” Simmons said. “I like going over there near the water. I have never gotten close enough to pick one up though. Like you start seeing the environment here. I like it. There is a lot of stuff to do here.” 

It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know Maurice Simmons more and get another look into the faces behind the food we eat. Once again, there are plenty of faces around Eastern for us to get to know, and it never hurts to say hello and get to know some that we see daily!

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