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  • Debbie J. Elder

First Week at Cedar Crest Lodge

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

Entrance to Cedar Crest Lodge (photo by Cedar Crest Lodge)

A week ago last Monday, I started my new job as a Manager at Cedar Crest Lodge in Pleasanton, Kansas. What a whirlwind it has been. I've been standing, bending and moving more this past week than I typically do in a month! One of the many reasons I wanted to take on this job was to increase my physical activity, and this is definitely pushing me into a new zone!

So far, my FitBit weekly summary says that I walked 31 miles and took 73,436 steps during my first week. I am averaging a calorie burn of 2,445 per day. One day alone, I walked 6 miles. At this pace, I should definitely see an improvement in my stamina, and hopefully, a slimmer weight.

On Day 1, I worked 12 hours and shadowed the owners as we made a two-course breakfast for six. Delivered room service to a couple who wanted to eat on their private patio with their comfort dog. (The Lodge doesn't allow dogs, but that's another story for another day.) Baked six chocolate chip cookies for guests who were checking out. Prepared a picnic basket for two with turkey and cheese sandwiches over just baked pretzel rolls. Created a small cheese and fruit tray with grapes and goat cheese fudge. All the cheeses and fudge come from two local dairies located down the road.

Local Cheeses, Goat Milk Fudge & Fruit Tray

Dipped six large strawberries in chocolate, then artfully arranged them on a tray and delivered to a room as a welcome gift for new guests checking in. Baked a made from scratch strawberry cake for eight. Learned the basics of the reservation system. Checked in a couple celebrating the wife's two-year cancer free anniversary. Cooked four entrees for dinner guests, including our speciality Cedar Crest Lodge Chicken.

Cedar Crest Chicken with Provolone Cheese & Mushrooms, Roasted Carrots, Mashed Potatoes

Listened in on six phone calls for information on booking future reservations. Baked eight rolls for dinner. Made homemade orange juice from Cara Cara oranges for the next day's breakfast. Created several different garnishes for dinner plates. Chopped tomatoes, Kalamata olives and mushrooms for dinner entrees. Dried dishes. Picked herbs from the herb garden.

Gardener Kathryn oversees 1/2 acres of fresh produce and herbs

Wiped down tables in the Sun room where guests dine daily. Toured the basement peeking into each of the five freezers and seven refrigerators. Each one has a designated purpose and they are all full of butter, cheese, meats, produce and frozen breads, rolls plus leftovers. There is also a laundry room, including a giant ironing station and large storage room filled with walls of plates, linens and serving dishes. Checked the work of housekeeping staff in several rooms. This involves inspecting rooms for any signs leftover from previous occupants and ensuring bed linens are smooth and pillows fluffed, window blinds are in working order, lights on, floors vacuumed, furniture dusted, and bathrooms are sparkling clean.

Thoughout the week, I met the members of the Green Team. Four employees who tend the gorgeous gardens and spacious grounds bursting with flowers, shady trees, vegetables and bright green plants. I met the Clean Team. Three employees who clean the rooms, do the laundry and perform general housekeeping duties. And, of course, I had lots of interaction with the Cuisine Team. Six employees who rotate as servers, dishwashers, expeditors, and three cooks (the owner, one other, and me). I observed the owner's preferences on how to do this and that.

Throughout the remainder of the week, much of what I learned on Day 1 was repeated. Everyday there are cakes or muffins to be baked, rolls to bake, entree's to prep and cook, and side dishes to process and complete.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberries & Whipped Cream

A two-course breakfast is served every day as part of the package guests receive for their overnight stay.

Smoked Brisket & Scrambled Egg Breakfast Quesadilla

Dinner is optional and requires advance reservations. Since the closest dining experience outside of the Lodge is a Casey's General Store & Gas Station in Pleasanton (about 5 miles away), nearly everyone decides to add on a dinner during their stay. Guests are required to confirm their dinner entree well in advance of checkin so the kitchen staff knows what to prepare each night. Ten entree's are available for dinner including choices of chicken, beef, pork tenderloin, sausage, sea bass, salmon, and vegetarian dishes. Photos and descriptions can be found here: https://www.cedarcrestlodge.com/gourmet-meals.html

Most of the produce used at the Lodge comes from the 1/2 acre garden on the property. The owners spend a day each week in Overland Park, Kansas (a one-hour drive north) to pick up food supplies. The Lodge does not use restaurant vendors' food or produce as the quality is not meet the owner's standards. The restaurant is considered a true farm-to-table dining experience with exceptional quality. We use as much local dairy, produce and meats that we can find available. We also take great care to prepare foods for special diets, including Vegan, Keto, Vegetarian, Pescatarian and Gluten-free. I haven't had the chance to prepare many of these dishes yet, but am looking forward to sharing new contributions for special meals in the future.

My schedule varies with some days starting at 6:30-7:00 AM, then leaving around 2:00 PM. More often, I work the dinner shift starting at 2:00 PM and ending after 7:30-9:00 PM. The hours depend upon the number of guests and how late they stay in the dining room. One day a week, on Wednesday, I work a 12-hour shift. This is the slowest day of the week, the owner's tell me. I have two days off per week, with one weekend of Saturday-Sunday away per month. On that same weekend every month, I also have Monday and Tuesday for a long needed break. This schedule will allow me to return to Arizona on a frequent basis to see family and friends there.

Walking trails at Cedar Crest Lodge

There are many activities for guests at the Lodge. Options include walking the many trails, a pool, dry sauna, hot tub, fishing or walking around the ponds, picking produce from the garden, playing cards and board games, massage appointments at the spa, or just relaxing in an easy chair taking in the views. There is a fire pit to enjoy at night, and can be used to roast s'mores in the welcome kit each guest receives upon checkin. The Lodge offers several romantic packages, a foodies package, and a stargazing package. Occasionally, small weddings and elopement ceremonies are held at the Lodge. It is a peaceful and restful experience for all those that visit.

I hope you'll consider a trip to see me and experience first-hand the tremendous hospitality the owner's have created at this special Lodge. Thanks for following along on my adventure.

Incredible views from Cedar Crest Lodge (photo by Cedar Crest Lodge)