Before the long line of guests appears and the sound of trays can be heard clanking on tables, the bumping of old-school rock + roll can be heard echoing from the One80 Place Community Kitchen.
Inside the kitchen, you can find James “Big Al” Alexander Ross, the bearded, tongue-pierced teddy bear who helps run this well-oiled machine. So before jumping in with serving spoons + smiles, we snagged the opportunity to chat it up with the culinary assistant to find out more about his story working for One80 Place.
“This is the best kitchen job I’ve ever had, brother,” said Big Al. “As far as food + beverage jobs go, this is as stress-free as it gets!” And sure enough, we found Big Al’s statement to ring true.
Prior to donning our aprons and serving up some hot meals, we helped Big Al + the kitchen team by rolling up silverware and drying off trays. In the middle of our pre-meal duties, we were happily surprised by the delectable dinner platter that we got to serve + share. Baked chicken + vegetable medleys, country fried rice + mashed potatoes were being doled out in heaps with the most colorful array of sweet treats to give out as dessert. The pièce de résistance was the fact that across each tray was a well-balanced, nutritious, and generous amount of southern style, lip-smacking food.
Our time volunteering was nothing short of inspiring. It showed us how One80 Place’s kitchen truly embodies the concept of “it takes a village.” We were honored to be a small part of that village as College of Charleston Fellows for Charleston Wine + Food.
And of course, none of the work done in this heartwarming kitchen would be possible without the committed staff, local volunteers, endless amounts of daily donations from local supermarkets + meaningful community partnerships.
Follow along with this five-part series featuring stories about the partnership between Charleston Wine + Food + One80 Place. It’ll definitely have you thinking: #WhereElseButCharleston?