Ramon, Grill Cook at Greenhouse Cafe
I’ve been here since December 2007. I started off at Sebastian’s in Longwood Ave, the Medical School. I was there for a year, and then I applied for CSG. I was at CSG for 2 years and then there was an eliminating of breakfast. I was bumped because I had less seniority than everybody else. I got bumped to Lowell/Winthrop. I was there for 3 weeks and then I bid for the Greenhouse, and I’ve been there ever since. I’ve been there for 2 years now. So I’ve been here a total of almost 5 years.
It’s good. I enjoy my experience here at Harvard. I enjoy all the students, they’re very pleasant to work for, and I never have an issue. I enjoy my lifestyle here at Harvard; there’s a nice community atmosphere, you’re part of a community. It’s not just a job; it’s a lifestyle as well.
I grew up in Lynn; I lived basically my whole life there. My mother and father are Puerto Rican. I visit back and forth. Puerto Rico is nice. I will one day retire in Puerto Rico, hopefully. It’s a very relaxing atmosphere; it’s not hectic, it’s a basic lifestyle. My father’s grandmother is still alive there; she’s 94. She’s in good shape: she cooks for herself, cleans, she walks every day. Abuelita mía. If you look at it that way, it’s such a relaxing atmosphere. Stress ages you beyond what you know.
I still live in Lynn; I lived in Peabody for a short while and then I moved back to Lynn. I commute from Lynn to Harvard. I drive to Wonderland station and commute in. I got towed once because my car got broken into, and it was 27 miles, the guy said. So it’s 27 miles from Harvard to Lynn. It’s not that bad when you take the train. And Harvard does have a good benefit that they pay: a T pass. It’s 50-something dollars and I only pay 20 dollars, which gets directly deducted from my paycheck.
I’m engaged. My soon-to-be-father-in-law works at Quincy House right now. It’s a family. I have three nephews and a niece, and I like to spend time with them. Recently we had spring break, and I took them to the IMAX theater, and we had a whole fun day, and I took them to LaserCraze. We had a good time; I enjoy spending time with them. I do want to plan something where they can visit me at Harvard, but they’re always busy. They have baseball, one has soccer, the other one has football; they’re pretty into sports. So when I had that week, I took advantage.
I'm with Neal and Hakim in the pizza area. There’s more to it than what you see; it’s not as easy as throwing pizza in the oven. We get dough, fresh dough, and you have to stretch it, prep it, cook it, and it doesn’t come all evenly, you have to actually get in there. There’s a back flame, everything in the middle burns, and you have to throw everything inside of the stone. If you ever look inside the oven, the flame runs through the middle to the back. It takes two to three minutes for a pizza, but it takes longer to stretch and prep. The fastest part of the pizza is the cooking.
When I started off at Sebastian’s, on Longwood Ave, I made pizza over there. I did catering, but under a grill cook title. I did Crimson Catering, and before that I worked with Sebastian’s as a catering cook. And if I didn’t have that many functions that day I would jump in and make pizza. But they have a conveyor belt system; it’s very easy. It comes off at the end and you slice it. It’s a great job, you meet a lot of people. The foot traffic is like 3,000 people a day going through the Greenhouse.
A homeless guy once begged for pizza and I gave it to him. He was like, “Can I please have one?” and I said, “Sure,” and I gave it to him. I told the manager and she said that’s fine. He never came back.
I speak English and Spanish. We get people from Spain, and I do translate if they need something. Hakim, he speaks Arabic, French, Lebanese, English, and he translates when people come. We’re very fortunate to have a team that speaks multiple languages to communicate with the tourists and other students.