By Park, Myeong-Shin, USAG Daegu Public Affairs InternMay 12, 2014
No one would deny that the lunch break is precious time to get recharged in the middle of the work day. Workers wait for this time, but it is true that deciding what to eat each day is not easy. Besides, having delicious food at reasonable prices requires some consideration.
Luckily, Henry's Place can do a lot to help solve this dilemma. The restaurant provides a menu with everything from American hot wings to traditional Korean dishes like bulgogi. With such a menu to choose from, it's understandable why during meal times, Henry's Place is busy trying to take care of both new customers and old, who come to enjoy a delicious meal made by some very dedicated cooks.
Surprisingly, at Henry's Place, all the hard work that goes into serving a community with a hearty appetite is done by just four cooks. According to Kim, Myong Kon, Head Cook at the restaurant, the demands of the kitchen make the work anything but an easy task.
"The kitchen is not just a place for cooking," he said. "Working in a kitchen requires a lot of physical labor as well."
Cooks Chang, Ho Song, Pak, Su Chong, and Kim, Un Chong stand ready to assist in the kitchen. The three of them learn the basics of kitchen operations and demands from the head cook, Mr. Kim. Like any great teacher, he encourages and inspires them. This was clear during the interview when he made it a point to speak highly of their hard work and professionalism.
A modern and cozy restaurant, Henry's Place kicks off the lunch hour at 11 a.m.--which translates into a 6 a.m. start time for the kitchen crew.
"Preparing for lunch requires much time," head cook Kim said. "We have to consider the possible quantity of orders. During the two and a half hour lunch period, approximately 120 diners will order their food, and on average 50 to 60 customers will use the buffet. We have to take into consideration that the meals being served take time to prepare. For instance, steak takes a long time to broil, and chicken has to be marinated in advance. Even the salad needs to be prepared according to specific procedures."
At Henry's Place, sanitation is of the utmost importance. Inspectors do drop by unannounced just to make sure the restaurant is operating at a high standard of cleanliness. The kitchen crew may wash 16 refrigerators a day. Mr. Kim said that hygiene is a top priority in all restaurants.
"Here, we wear masks, and sanitary gloves, and we wash our hands constantly." Clearly, the employees at Henry's Place do a lot to make sure the customers keep coming back.
Take into consideration the demands brought on by normal rush hour, then an exercise such as Key Resolve or some other training or holiday activity will further challenge the skills of the Henry's Place team. While some might find the work overwhelming, Mr. Kim and his team view things quite differently. While maintaining the position of chef and working on a U.S. Army base might mean a lot of pressure for some, Mr. Kim sees it as a welcomed challenge. Instead of getting stressed, he optimizes his time and takes great pride in his work.
Mr.Kim, who has been working on Camp Henry since October 1990, first started his career on a Korean Air Force base. He later moved to Henry's Place where he had to learn about Western food from the bottom up. That included washing dishes and memorizing all recipes. In spite of his 25 years of experience, he still keeps a modest attitude and has ensured his development compliments food trends and food and changes. Thus, he has paid more attention to the area of food decoration.
"What looks good, tastes good", he said. The chef then added, "I enjoy my work."