Inside Staff Meal at Tryst: Bricking Tradition

by Katherine Sacks
Tryst Restaurant
March 2012


Chef Paul Turano of Tryst Restaurant - Arlington, MA


Tryst Restaurant
689 Massachusetts Ave
Arlington, MA 02476
(781) 641-2227

Staff Meal Details

Chef Paul Turano weighs in.

Staff meal food costs:
The cost varies depending on what proteins we use. I'd say between $5 to $10 per person.

Size of staff meal:
Depending on the day, the meal usually feeds 10 to 20 people.

Time of staff meal:
We try for 4:30pm each day, but sometimes we get it out closer to 5pm.

Worst staff meal:
I had a cook make chicken salad using chicken legs, which was problem number one. Then he decided to poorly pick the meat from the bone, and when I saw what he had done I asked him about it. He told me, "My opinion on staff meal is they get what they get." I responded, "Well, that's not mine. I eat this, and I'm certainly not going to serve my staff anything that I'm not excited to eat and proud to serve!" I made something else.

Favorite staff meal ever:
The best staff meal for me personally is Chicken under a Brick with Mushroom Bread Pudding! Simple and complex all at the same time. The art of feeding people!

At Arlington’s chef-owned Tryst Restaurant, staff meal is good for a reason: Chef Paul Turano is cooking the food he wants to eat. “I’ve worked at a lot of places where you don’t know what you’re getting. The food is almost inedible,” says the Boston-native, who’s been behind the helm at the Beantown suburb restaurant for the past eight years. “I always try to make something you want to eat, because if you work five to six days a week, and you come in early in the day, you should have a great meal. I believe in staff meal; I’m an eater.”

Staff Meal
The Tryst staff chows down on house-made pasta for crew meal.

Turano keeps his staff happy and well-fed, with a handful of Tryst crew favorites, including hearty servings of brunch classics on the weekend (after the restaurant has cleared the breakfast crowd), Saturday night lo mein, and late-night Sunday carbonara (using up leftover house-made pastas). And chicken, as in so many other resourceful restaurants, makes an appearance almost every night, as Turano uses up legs and thighs in braises, lo mein (“the kitchen favorite”), and hearty dishes like his Chicken Under a Brick.

Staff Meal
Taking a momentary break at Tryst before service for staff meal.

This isn’t boring chicken crew meal—a spicy marinade teams with hot bricks to infuse plenty of flavor into Turano’s dish. And the savory bread pudding that Turano serves alongside the chicken is a staff meal no-brainer. “We go through so much bread,” says Turano, “so the staff saves the scrap and makes bread pudding.” The dish combines ease of preparation with tons of flavor, and adds a handful of resourcefulness into the mix, so it’s easy to see why it’s one of Turano’s favorite staff meals. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a dish he enjoys eating himself, a prerequisite for any crew meal at Tryst. As far as he’s concerned, when cooking for his team, “you're cultivating a feeling of warmth and hospitality, and that starts with the staff.”