French Toast Goes and Comes.

French toast photoYes, French Toast is back on the breakfast menu in the dining cars on Amtrak’s long-distance trains. That makes me and, I’m sure, a great many other frequent Amtrak passengers very happy because French Toast is our breakfast-of-choice when traveling overnight on the train.
That said, I must confess I really had no idea as to the complexities involved in what appeared to be a simple transition: French Toast off the menu in December; French Toast back on the menu in April. Ah … would it were really that simple! I have recently learned a lot about the complexities of Amtrak’s food and beverage operation from a bona fide expert. Specifically, here’s what it took to get French Toast back on the breakfast menu:
1. Amtrak notified the commercial food producer who collects and provides all the ingredients that French Toast must be back on the menu as of April 20th.
2. That company notified its various suppliers to be sure it can provide all the ingredients needed and to the specifications Amtrak has laid out: flavor, style, weight, method of final preparation, portion, packaging, etc.
3. As the date approached, the bread, butter, eggs and other elements needed were ordered and sent to warehouses around the country.
4. With French Toast Day close now, Amtrak’s food commissary company, Aramark, collected the appropriate supplies and quantities and delivered them to the several Amtrak servicing points around the country. The French Toast ingredients have to be stocked in the appropriate quantities in all those various facilities at least one day before the date specified.
5. Last step: all the necessary ingredients were loaded aboard Amtrak dining cars which—we must remember—are at a dozen different locations all around the country, with several still en route.
Right about here is when I realized that it’s the same process for all the perishable items served in the dining cars, not just French Toast. The logistics needed to stock all the dining cars are extremely complicated and very labor/cost intensive.
Furthermore, outside factors of all kinds, all beyond Amtrak’s control, can have an unavoidable impact. Here’s just one example related to the original removal of French Toast from Amtrak’s breakfast menu, from our resident expert on these things:
“My guess is that French Toast is back [on Amtrak’s menu] because the wholesale commercial egg product market has finally stabilized . . . after going through the roof last fall and winter due to the avian flu outbreak . . . “
And still, people like Rep. John Mica (R-Florida) refuse to understand that passing a law requiring Amtrak’s food service operation to break even is not just arrogant meddling . . . it’s also stupid.