THE air smelled of soup boiling, potatoes frying. With a big spoon, a cook stirred the pot of mushroom soup, then stirred the clam chowder. Emanations of sage and garlic came at me.
The kitchen was like nothing I had ever seen—a sweltering hive of activity, deafening with the clanging of pots and pans. Cooks skipped to and fro, their faces dripping sweat. There were counters where a mob of waiters clamored with trays. Everyone seemed to be in a terrific hurry. The place served about two thousand meals a day.
The hotel actually had six kitchens—the main kitchen, a kitchen for each of the restaurants, and the banquet kitchen. To keep up with all the cooking and cleaning, close to a hundred people worked in all of them.
Reiner Greubal sagged into ...