Over the past four years I’ve come to learn that food is personal. One person’s “yuck” is another person’s “yum.” One may love veggies while another may despise them. One may not understand how someone could live without meat while another can’t imagine consuming an animal product. One may love the food of their culture, while others might be reminded of a culture they’re trying to distance themselves from. Everyone has their story, but most of it has to do with food.
When I reflect back on these past four years, I think about the people I’ve met, come to know and can call life-long friends. Many of these memories were made over meals. Freshman year, it was over Terrace salads and Appel and RPCC dinners. Sophomore year was over Mac’s salads and dinners at 117 Triphammer. Junior year was Mac’s salads mixed with home cooking. And senior year has been a mix of my favorites: Carriage House, Saigon, Souvlaki House, Taste of Thai, Straight from the Market, Mac’s Taverna Banfi, Gimme Coffee, Chatty Cathy and of course some home cooking as well. I’ll never forget the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, birthday parties and celebrations had at each of these establishments and the people I was with.
As I recall all the places I’ve dined during my time in Ithaca, I’m reminded of a well known TED Talk given by Drew Dudley. Dudley discusses everyday leadership and the potential each one of us has to improve one another’s lives and while one might not realize it, everyone has been a part of changing someone’s life. Dudley coins these moments of improvement as lollipop moments. Whether one’s aware of it or not, these moments make a real impact on someone’s life. Whether you’re aware of it or not, the smile you give to the barista at the cash register or the person you hold the door for might just make their day. It’s safe to say that I have had countless lollipop moments over the course of these past four years at each of these establishments. I wish I knew the names of baristas, cashiers, waiters, bartenders, hosts chefs and managers that I’ve come in contact with during these moments because I want to express my gratitude to them for being a part of my Cornell experience. Whether they recognize it or not, each of these individuals were an integral part of my career at Cornell. Sophomore year, I looked forward to my salad each day at Mac’s not just for the salad itself, but for the conversations I’d have with Neil while he chopped up my salad just how I liked it. Senior year, seeing the excitement on the faces of the employees at Gimme as I raced over to grab something to eat right before they closed (in a full chef uniform) sent me back into my shift even more excited about what I was doing. These are the moments I’ll miss. The lollipop moments. The moments I’m incredibly grateful for and won’t ever forget.
Thank you to The Sun for giving me a platform to speak from and allowing my voice to be heard.
Chelsea Leeds is a graduating senior in the School of Hotel Administration. She has been a staff writer in the dining department for four semesters and can be reached at email@example.com.