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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 3 (July 1, 1929)

On the Pennsylvania Railroad, U.S.A

On the Pennsylvania Railroad, U.S.A.

How the restaurants of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Hotel on Wheels, the Broadway Limited and other De Luxe Blue Ribbon trains, serve more than 12,000 meals every day to the rail-travelling public is told in the following article.

The opening of the Pennsylvania Railroad's third training school and dietetical kitchen at Chicago for its dining car stewards, cooks, and waiters, marks another step in the systematic training of the 2,000 employees who man the diners of the railroad, maintaining unexcelled dining car service for thousands of passengers daily.

Training school for dining car employees. Instructing waiter demonstrating the proper methods of serving tea in the Pennsylvania Railroad's training school for dining car stewards, cooks and waiters at Columbus, O. This man, a waiter of wide knowledge and long experience, conducts classes in service methods, courtesy, personal appearance, care of silver and linen, and kindred subjects.

Training school for dining car employees.
Instructing waiter demonstrating the proper methods of serving tea in the Pennsylvania Railroad's training school for dining car stewards, cooks and waiters at Columbus, O. This man, a waiter of wide knowledge and long experience, conducts classes in service methods, courtesy, personal appearance, care of silver and linen, and kindred subjects.

The first school was established at Columbus, O., last year, and the second was opened at Sunnyside Yard, Long Island City, New York, early this fall.

The experimental kitchen and training school at the Chicago Commissary, 328 West Roosevelt Road, has the same objectives as the two older schools: to give a thorough and rigid training to prospective dining car employees, and, at the same time, by regular periods of study and instruction, constantly to improve the work of those already in service.

To make this possible, an exact reproduction in space and equipment of the latest type of Pennsylvania railroad dining car, built into and forming a part of the commissary building, is used for demonstrations and experiments.

System and Safety.

Every feature, from cooking utensils, range, broiler, and pantry, to the dining room and table for patrons, has been reproduced precisely. Even the familiar aisles and corridors have been retained, and made to confirm exactly with standard dining car specifications. With this complete and compact equipment, it is possible to carry on demonstrations, and conduct classes under exactly the same conditions as prevail in cooking and serving meals while dining cars are under way. Just as the rolling dining cars are systematized and provided with every appliance to make the work of every employee safe and efficient, so this representation of a car is safeguarded.

Home Cooking on Wheels.

Every feature of the cooking art is taught with great care. The instruction ranges from the preparation of cuts of meat for broiling and roasting, to the creation of the most delicate sauces and salads. The courses of instruction cover the preparation of raw meat cuts, poultry of all kinds, fish, soup stock, sauces, eggs, vegetables, cold meats and garnishings, salads and relishes, hotbreads, puddings, pastries, beverages, and many other fundamentals of the culinary art. Every item of food served on a Pennsylvania dining car is prepared on the car.

Training in preparing and serving all dishes is given new men in the Pennsylvania dining car service as well as older employees, to whom new ideas are constantly presented. The average employee spends approximately three hours at school each week, while assigned to his regular page 27 run. At intervals, each employee is detailed to the school for a week or more or intensive training.

Restaurant Experts.

The staff of supervisors and instructors in the new Chicago Commissary School is composed of men of wide and varied experience, not only in railroad dining car work, but also in the largest and most popular hotels and restaurants of Europe and America.

William Arthur Williams, instructor, has not only had 16 years experience with the Pennsylvania Railroad as steward, inspector, commissary agent, and instructor, but has also spent considerable time as steward for Canadian railroads. Coming from a family of practised restauranteurs, Mr. Williams has given years of study to his profession. Since 1923, when he began writing the menus for the Pennsylvania Railroad dining car system, west of Pittsburgh, Mr. Williams has done much to systematize the work as well as to make the menus more attractive.

Under the supervision of expert chefs. Chefs demonstrating the preparation of canaloupe ball salad and proper methods of cutting beef on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Under the supervision of expert chefs.
Chefs demonstrating the preparation of canaloupe ball salad and proper methods of cutting beef on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Carl Schiller, instructing chef, has had long experience in famous English restaurants, on some of the finest ships of the Cunard Line, and in many American hotels and restaurants. His father was managing director of A. and S. Gatti and Co., of London, one of the most famous eating places of that city. Mr. Schiller served as an apprentice in the kitchens of this European landmark for three years. He went to Canada and there served as chef for Nasmith Co., of Toronto, who operated a chain of restaurants there. Later, he was chef of the King Edward Hotel of Toronto and chef de cuisine of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. For four years he was assistant chief steward on the S.S. “Lusitania,” S.S. “Carpathia,” and S.S. “Mauretania,” respectively.

Walter Jack is the instructing waiter. He has been in the service of the Pennsylvania Railroad for five years and has had much experience in hotel and catering work, including service at the Palmer House, Chicago. He is also an expert cook.

Serve 12,000 Meals Every Day.

Pennsylvania Railroad dining car service has gradually developed and expanded through the years, until, to-day, 183 cars are in operation on over 200 trains a day. Some idea of the extent of this service may be gained from the fact that in 1927 an average of 12,000 meals were served every day in the Pennsylvania dining cars, or a total of approximately 4,000,000 meals for the year. Nearly 2000 persons are employed in the dining car department, including stewards, waiters, cooks, commissary workers, clerks, and a large group of miscellaneous employees.

page 28

Poultry, Meats, and Eggs.

The average passenger travelling to or from New York or Chicago on the Broadway Limited, the Gotham, the Liberty Limited, or one of the other Blue Ribbon trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad, does not realize the huge amounts of supplies, necessary for the diners, carried on these and the many other trains of the Pennsylvania.

In 1927, approximately 2,000,000 pounds of meat and fowl were served in the dining cars. Patrons were also served 300,000 pounds of fish, 150,000 pounds of white potatoes, 450,000 loaves of bread, 160,000 dozens of rolls, 225,000 pounds of butter, 230,000 dozen eggs, and 220,000 pounds of coffee and tea.

A single dining car run demands 16 large baskets of supplies, and this does not include the perishables that are picked up at different dining car agencies located in the larger terminals.

The magnitude of the task of keeping the Pennsylvania Railroad's dining cars fully stocked with all sorts of supplies and materials is astounding. Every day 15,000 napkins, 2,500 table cloths, and 1,400 waiters' jackets are freshly laundered for use on the cars. More than 3,000 articles are used in the preparation and service of meals on one Pennsylvania diner. At one commissary there are enough dishes to stock a large metropolitan hotel, while huge storerooms house reserve supplies of pots and pans and other utensils.

Anative dining saloon in new zealand. Maoris preparing food at a logging camp in the Urewera country, North Island.

Anative dining saloon in new zealand.
Maoris preparing food at a logging camp in the Urewera country, North Island.

A Pennsylvania Railroad diner carries about 1,200 pieces of linen, 750 pieces of silverware, and 1,500 pieces of china and crockery. The total cost of one dining car's equipment runs well over 3,500 dollars. The dining car department's laundry bill alone amounts to about 18,000 dollars each month.

J. F. Finnegan is superintendent of dining car service and in charge of dining car operations west of Pittsburgh. His offices are in Chicago.