We have a few yearly internal traditions where we take time to make sure our staff feel extra-appreciated. We do it so often, in fact, Dan Donahue & Alison Majka developed an internal catering team, D&A Catering back in 2012 to handle most of the cooking for these events based on their shared passion for cooking! To find out more about this dynamic duo, please take a read below:
Dan – My Mom, just watching her cook from such a young age. She taught me that food is love and is also the great common denominator between people. Everyone needs it. Being the youngest of 8 children, I watched a lot of cooking!
Alison – My Parents. From a very early age, my parents made dinner for me and my three siblings most nights (I know, I know, not nearly as many kids as Dan’s family). They would pour some wine and really enjoyed making a nice meal even if we didn’t appreciate it. It was a treat for us all to sit together and chat about our day.
Dan – It was almost from the time I could reach the counter probably 6, 7, or 8 years old. We would always help – in a big family you always have a job. Alison wasn’t even born when I started cooking, that’s why I’m a much better cook than she is, obviously.
Alison – Someone’s feisty today. Well obviously you’ve had much more time in the kitchen given your age and all but I wasn’t going to bring that up…Anyways, my sister, Sara who is 8 years older taught me how to bake when I was like 5 or 6. We would bake thousands of cookies, pack them up and deliver them to friends and family around the holidays. This is a tradition I’ve held on to and still continue with my friends! Maybe I should write a blog post about Holiday Cookie Delivery too?!
Dan – Okay Alison, one blog at a time. To answer your question, it would really depend on the day. Usually I was the one who had to dry the dishes or chop the lettuce, not that fancy S*** just iceberg because we had salad every night of the week. It’s funny what you remember, my mother said we couldn’t use a knife because she thought if you didn’t rip it apart with your hands it would wilt. I see Alison shaking her head over there but it is true, ask Chef! Every night we would use two heads of lettuce and it was a deal at .49. Can you believe that, .49 cents?
Alison – I was the youngest of my siblings so they usually made me do the dishes. Actually, they made me unload the dishwasher. I hated unloading the dishwasher, it’s the worst, am I right?
Dan – At least you had a dishwasher…
Alison – Alright, alright and you climbed uphill both ways to school in the snow, I forgot.
Dan – Chili. Beef Chili. She would always make it every time my brother would come home from college . There would be a huge pot on the oven every time Paulie came home. Let’s just say there was a line to the bathroom after those meals.
Alison – My Dad would roast a chicken on Sunday nights and it was the best! I have no idea what he did to make it so amazing but it was the most delicious chicken I’ve ever had. The entire house would smell all afternoon while it roasted slowly. Everyone would be home on Sunday nights so it was guaranteed we’d all be together for dinner. Those were my favorite nights.
Dan – To eat and cook? Chicken Cacciatore– it’s never the same, I love red sauce and you can put just about anything in it to make it taste a little bit different than the last time you made it.
You can make it spicy or add extra peppers, mushrooms, onions, scallions, celery. You can really add anything to it. My mother used to make it with the whole chicken because it was cheaper but I only use split breasts which by the way if you like a good split breast, go to Market Basket, its only $1.09 a pound. Seriously! Alison, don’t roll your eyes!
Alison – You just have a really strange obsession with Market Basket. The guy loves a deal- but I guess who doesn’t?! I love making Chili. Especially the first chili of the season once the real cold hits. It’s another dish like Dan mentioned, that you can put anything in! I usually like to put a couple different types of meat, peppers, onions, some beer..maybe a stout, all different types of beans and jalapenos – I like it spicy! Chili is fun because you can crack a beer to drink while you let it simmer – it also served a big crowd.
Dan – Umm, Alison was bringing in food for the mangers to try and I saw that her culinary skills needed help so I thought I would “teach” her by showing her. D&A was born.
Alison – That’s a cute story but not exactly truthful..
Dan – Well then how did it start?
Alison – Well Dan used to challenge people to cook offs. I think it began long before I started with a Chili Cook Off and Meatball offs, etc. But about 6 years ago, I brought in Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Managers and Dan challenged me to some type of soup off? Dan, do you remember?
Dan – I have no idea what we made but the votes were rigged.
Alison – What he is saying is, I won. Honestly, I think the Managers knew which one was mine and felt bad for me but either way, I’ll take the W!
Dan – Ya exactly, they just felt bad for her. Mine was way better. To prove myself, I challenged her to a Meatball off the following month. The votes were rigged again.
Alison – So long story short, Dan got sick of losing the challenges and we joined forces.
Dan – OHHHHH boy, the medium rare buffalo chicken drum sticks. We will never live that down. Alison forgot to par bake the chicken so I had to save the day and deep fry them and then bake them, and then that didn’t work so we just threw them away. Colin came to the kitchen and gleefully announced that the chicken was under cooked. All of the guests had one bite taken out of their chicken wing when we looked around the room. We have since learned from our mistakes and take temps on our food before serving! We now carry thermometers with us at all times.
Alison – You really have no memory, huh? I don’t think that’s exactly how it went down but we’ll move on! My favorite D&A event is during Housekeeping Week. For the entire week we celebrate our amazing Housekeeping Staff and on one of the days, Dan and I cook a special lunch and serve all of the staff in City Table! I think employees really love coming through the ‘lunch line’ and seeing Dan in a Chef’s coat yelling out funny things like “more plates on the line” or “Ricardo is here, get him a plate” or if we are really behind he will yell “just one minuteeee, Alison burnt the onion rings” and people laugh. It’s a really fun event and a nice way to show our appreciate for our amazing team!
Dan – We are gearing up for our next event and we’ll be sure to share the pics!