Unsung Heroes: Peter Hatzis
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
For students living on Lower Campus without kitchens, almost every meal is eaten at Corcoran Commons. On Sunday mornings, everyone seems to need the same thing to eat: an omelette. Apparently, half of Walsh and Vanderslice Halls share this Sunday morning desire, so the line weaves like a snake around the dining hall. Despite the daunting length, many students confidently step into line once they see that Peter Hatzis, a favorite chef, is working the grill. Peter always serves students quickly, and the food is always delicious. Lindsey Ellermeyer, A&S ’14, said, “I’m always relieved when I see Peter working the line because I know my omelette will be delicious and my steak will be cooked to perfection.”
As students at a highly competitive university such as Boston College, life is often a haze: running to class, the library, the gym, and back to class. Intermittently within these hectic schedules, students get an opportunity to stop by one of the many Boston College dining locations to grab a bite. One of these busy students, Anita Goyal, A&S ’14, a biochemistry major, said, “I have really unusual hours because I’m up late studying. I like to grab a croissant in the morning to bring to my chem class, and last night I needed to cram for an exam so I ran over to late night to grab a coffee. I love how convenient it is for me!” Goyal is like most students who depend on the efficient and friendly food service at BC. Like Goyal, however, most don’t always stop in the midst of their high-pressure lives to appreciate the integral role that people like Hatzis play.
One student, Katina Russell, A&S ’14, commented about her morning stops at Hillside Cafe. “Every morning I stop in Hillside to get a coffee, and I know the two cashiers there. They are always a bright spot in my morning.” She added as an afterthought, “They greet me by my name every morning, but I just realized that I don’t know their names.” Russell makes a good point, as these two workers at Hillside and other BC dining employees pay attention and take pride in getting to know us. Like much of the BC community, Russell appreciates the dining staff’s service, but as a quiet math major she isn’t always apt to spark up a conversation with them.
Hatzis started working at BC in 1999. During his 14 years here, he has built relationships with students through the food he cooks for them. He knows his regulars on a first-name basis and enjoys being able to make them their favorite meals without them having to ask. When these regulars graduate, they make sure to say their goodbyes to Hatzis, and he even reconnected with one of his old patrons while he was visiting BC during a five-year reunion. “BC is a great place to work,” Hatzis said. The part of his job that he likes the most is getting to know the students.
Hatzis became the chef he is today in Montreal after he immigrated from Greece with his father and sister in order to live with Peter’s brother. During Hatzis’ teen years, he said that he became interested in cooking while working as a bus boy in Montreal and taking classes at night. Hatzis described his culinary mentor, the hotel’s head chef, saying, “I’ve never seen anyone like him. He did everything from pastries to ice sculptures.” The chef offered the staff cooking lessons, and at night Hatzis would go home and try to replicate the food, including omelets. Hatzis admitted that he couldn’t seem to recreate the chef’s food, at least not at first. When Hatzis was 18, he moved to Boston and continued to cook at a restaurant called University Coffee Shop.
Prior to working at BC, Hatzis had been an entrepreneur. Over a 20-year period, he owned three restaurants in the Boston area. After he sold the last restaurant, he decided he was too young to retire so he started working for BC. In his free time, Hatzis likes to read about history, specifically revolutions and the World Wars. Additionally, he enjoys going to see action movies like Indiana Jones with his 23-year-old daughter.
It’s important to recognize how vital the service staff members are to students’ sustenance and happiness. Like Hatzis, they take pride in working hard, feeding us with kindness and a smile on their faces. Hatzis said that in the morning when he comes into Corcoran Commons, he “leaves everything else outside” in order to focus on his job. If students too can focus on paying attention to the staffers, maybe they can reciprocate the efforts of the dining staff in being a friendly “bright spot” in their days.