Dishwasher Eden Vazquez is one of Atlanta’s unsung (and vital) kitchen workers

The dishwasher might be the most necessary position in the kitchen, says Bacchanalia pastry chef Carla Tomasko
Eden Vazquez
Eden Vazquez works as a dishwasher at Star Provisions and Bacchanalia.

Photograph by Fernando Decillis

Without dishwashers, restaurants simply couldn’t operate. Bacchanalia pastry chef Carla Tomasko thinks it might even be the most vital position in the professional kitchen.

Eden moved to Atlanta in 2004, and she’s been with us for six years now. Back in Mexico she was a stay-at-home mom, but living here is more expensive, so she needed a job. I was born in Ecuador, but I had cousins in Atlanta; Eden didn’t. She came to a different country with a different language and had to get accustomed to a different way of life. Think about the process of trying to get a car for her.

She’s very short—4’6”—but she gets the job done, and she’s always giggling. She’s just one of those people. You know, washing dishes for a restaurant is not like washing dishes at home; there’s a sense of urgency, and the volume is much higher. It’s not like me, cutting vegetables and baking them in a pastry and putting them on pretty plates. Dishwashers do the dirty work. And Eden isn’t afraid to speak up: She tells the servers where to put dirty dishes when they bring them her way. She likes to keep the same-sized plates stacked together, silverware soaking in one area, glassware in another, and she makes sure everyone follows her rules.

 

Every once in a while, she’ll make green posole for everyone in the kitchen. There’s no rhyme or reason, really; she’ll just feel like making it for us, she’ll announce that, and then we all pitch in to get ingredients. I’ll get tostadas, someone else will get radishes, someone else gets tomatillos . . . But she makes it, and it’s very good: spicy but not too much, not too thick, not too thin.

Sometimes the trash gets too heavy for her. I say, “Eden, you can’t lift that up?” And she says, “No, I’m an older lady!” And I say, “I’m older than you, and I can do it!” Then she smiles and says, “Ay, Carla!” She does that a lot—giggling, of course—“Ay, Carla!”

as told to Julia Bainbridge by Carla Tomasko

Eden Vazquez

Photograph by Fernando Decillis

This article originally appeared in our November 2017 issue.

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