Ladies and gents, I am so painfully sore I can hardly sit up straight.
Food and Wine is absolutely and utterly kicking my butt, like boot camp for culinary. At first I was nearly in tears– “Here’s your runner box, here’s your Conex, here’s your walkie, good luck and stay hydrated!” You want me to do what? But things have been getting easier. I’m actually beginning to have fun.
See, being a runner, I get the unique opportunity to be both onstage and backstage. I get to interact with all sorts of lovely folks, throwing out happy birthday wishes and congratulations to those with anniversary buttons. I get to hear the reviews of the food and drink, the chatter of happy guests.
I also get exercise. Lots and lots of it.
Of course, maybe I should explain my position–being a runner means I keep the booths stocked full of magical goodies. I also make sure those magical goodies are safe and fresh and sanitary. If you see an exhausted, yet still smiling, culinary cast member lugging around a big cart on wheels, say hello, because that’s me! I make countless trips from kiosk to kiosk to kiosk and to the main kitchens, back and forth, all day. I get the best of all worlds, I get to meet the guests, I get to chat with the cooks in the kitchen and see how things are going from all perspectives.
I’m not going to lie, this is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life, and it’s interesting to hear the guest reviews on everything. I’m not doing any of the cooking personally (at the moment, that isn’t to say I won’t be moved) but I am very interested in how everyone enjoys their food and drink.
Sometimes I wish I were a guest, able to leisurely hang out and drink a nice cold beverage, noshing on some of the most interesting dishes from around the world to the sound of the lovely background noise.
Instead, I’m clad in a full uniform, pushing carts and listening to Germany’s loop music on repeat all day. Actually, my lists of things I need to grab from the kitchens have begun to combine with the songs stuck in my head, I’ve caught myself humming some odd combinations, like that Florida Georgia Line song ‘Round Here’. The lyrics really sing,
We find a little spot on the edge of town
Twist off, sip a little, pass it around…
My version became
We find a little strudel on the edge of town
Take some schinken noodle, pass it around…
I’ve also made some great friends already. At the end of the night when the park clears (after my 8:40 performance on the dot as I proclaim from wherever I’m standing, ‘Ladies and gentlemen! Epcot is proud to present! ILLUMINATIONS! REFLECTIONS OF EARTH!’ along with the announcer) and everything is empty and quiet, I have the most fun. The life flows into Epcot when it’s empty, as if all the magic shines a little brighter without the hustle and bustle of tourists. The kiosks roll down their window flaps and hand me their dishes and garbage and I run them back where they belong. I get to talk with the cooks and the front-of-house cast members and take a little breather.
The cleanup is crazy, we have a nightly ‘bucket washing party’ as we all get up to our knees in hot soapy water and try and finish in time to clock out.
It’s an adventure, one that’s just beginning. I love the slower weekdays when I can catch up on my lists and I feel like I’m doing okay, I can stop for a minute in the massive coolers and breathe in and out. Weekends are going to be crazy hard, but I’m getting far more comfortable with the festival. It’s starting to all come together, we’re becoming a team.
So if you’re Dining and Wining and happen to see a girl with a cart trying not to run down pedestrians in Germany… share a smile or a wave! It makes these long, hot days entirely worthwhile.