Sandwiches and Smiles: An Inside Look at Staples’ Beloved Cafeteria Chef

Sandwiches and Smiles: An Inside Look at Staples’ Beloved Cafeteria Chef

When the name Amber is said at Staples, similar themes come to mind: a delicious sandwich, a contagious smile and a sense of authenticity. As Amber herself greets students in the cafeteria sandwich line (many by their first name), it becomes clear that she not only loves her job but also the people in the Staples community.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that Amber—who requested her last name be kept private—began working in the kitchen. In fact, she was a physical therapist aide before she decided to start a family of her own.

“I actually got to live my dream job for a little while—I was a stay-at-home mom,” she said. “And that was all I ever wanted to do.”

Once her children got older, however, Amber decided it was time to head back to work. She started her career journey within the Westport Public School district by working in the cafeteria at Green’s Farms Elementary School before transitioning to both middle schools. She began working at Staples about three years ago.

Acccording to Amber, each morning she makes fresh pesto and premade sandwiches. Then, when the lunch bell rings, she moves over to the deli, where she makes sandwiches to order—sandwiches so popular that her line often extends halfway across the cafeteria.

But her typical school day doesn’t end there.

“If I finish, I like to help out with everyone else in the kitchen,” she said. “And then once lunch is over, I count down all of the registers and do the deposit.”

Amber added that throughout the day, she tries to treat everyone with respect: “I hope that my love for family is reflected in everything I do—including the way I interact and respect the students here.”

And without question, the feeling is reciprocated throughout much of the Staples community.

“She’s so nice,” Jason Nelson ’16 said. “And she makes the best sandwiches at Staples.”

Many students reported feeling a personal connection with Amber—even as she places a grilled cheese or chicken pesto sandwich onto the hot panini press, she’s usually chatting with them.

“One time, we had a talk about our weekend plans and she gave me great advice,” Sloane Cooper ’15 said. “She couldn’t be more friendly.”

With Amber’s expert knife skills and her ability to weave between co-workers, Usain Bolt himself couldn’t put out sandwiches fast enough for such hungry students.

“I wish that I could move faster in the kitchen so that the kids didn’t have to wait so long for their lunch, but I move as fast as I can,” she said.

However, many students recognize Amber’s tremendous effort to do her job as quickly as possible.

“Overall, she’s just great,” Isabel Perry ’15 said.

Amber said she has one goal for each day: to make everyone she works with and around happy. And many students believe that she does just that.

“Sometimes she even gives me extra pieces of cheese when she’s done making my sandwich because she knows I love it,” Luis Cruz ’15 said.

Aside from creating the food, Amber said there are other things that she also enjoys about her job.

“The greatest thing about my job is the people I work with and you kids,” she said. “I love you guys.”