We know you care about what you eat. That’s why your sandwich maker at Grand Central is called a Culinary Lead. Think of them as the experts on everything in your sandwiches and salads. They can explain what chimichurri or caldo verde is, tell you what’s in season and what’s around the corner, discuss how Grand Central’s meats are raised and fish are caught and why it matters. And they love to share their knowledge! Carly Ballard, Culinary Lead at our Multnomah neighborhood bakery, explains more.
Q. You’re busy so much of the time making sandwiches. How are you able to reach out to Grand Central customers?
A. When we’re slower and I have time to talk, if a customer orders a tuna sandwich, I might say, “Hey did you know that our tuna was line caught by Rick at Sacred Sea? Most of them are really interested. Or I let them know that our eggs (in Portland) are pasture-raised and organic, and from Misty Meadow Farm. Or I might talk about Grand Central’s commissary and central kitchen – I like to mention Robb, who makes our soups from scratch, especially when Robb’s World Famous Chili is on the menu board.
Q. How do you go about sharing knowledge with your co-workers?
A. I started out last fall with a sandwich of the week; I drew a picture of the Bristol Bay Salmon Sandwich on my white board near the sandwich station and labeled it. Now I just focus on an item of the week – it simplifies it and it’s easier to grasp and remember. This week I’m asking my co-workers what loaves of bread have the highest content of whole grains and if they can name them in order.
Q. Is it easy to start conversations with folks behind the counter with you?
A. Yes, but rather than just put a fact on my board, I ask a question: Where do our eggs come from? What are non-therapeutic antibiotics? It’s a great way to get people engaged in the information that I want to share and encourage them to ask me about other things.
Q. How did you acquire your own knowledge about food?
A. I was involved in a lot of activism in high school. I went through a stage of watching documentaries and videos on food production – a really great one was Fast Food Nation, because not only did it cover out how animals were treated but it got into production workers and fast food workers. For a while I couldn’t even buy food at the grocery store. I’d sit there for hours reading the ingredients and not trusting them, because I know that like natural doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or natural. It was a big focus in my life for a long time.
Q. What’s your favorite thing to eat at Grand Central?
A. Right now it’s the Veggie Grinder sandwich, and the Mediterranean Melt is amazing. And peanut butter and jelly! I don’t eat meat now, but when I did, I was a really big fan of The Reuben (a spring special), and Turkey Deluxe with Avocado, grilled. And still our biscuits. Every time they come out of the oven, I take a big whiff of them.