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History of National Food Service Employee Day

On September 25, we come together to celebrate National Food Service Employee Day. It is a day dedicated to those who work in the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry is considered the second largest industry in the United States. Although it is not known when this day was officially created or who founded it, the gesture is warmly welcomed.

The practice of food preparation as a form of business or craft dates back to the 11th century. Guilds provided this service to a community and over the years they became more specialized. Knowledge would be passed from guild members to apprentices so that they could acquire the specific skills required by the profession. Examples of artisans specializing in food would be bakers and butchers.

Before restaurants, there were inns. Inns could be found along the roads to meet the needs of people traveling between towns, providing lodging and food. There were no menus or options to choose from and guests were seated and served at communal tables.

The first eating establishments that resembled modern restaurants emerged in China during the 11th and 12th centuries. These catered to merchants who traveled between cities. In Japan, tea houses appeared in the 16th century.

France has a rich history of developing various forms of inns and restaurants. In the 13th century, French inns served a variety of dishes – bread, cheese, bacon, soup, roasts and stews, all eaten at a communal table. Takeaway meals could be purchased from “rotisseries”.

The number of restaurants increased after the French Revolution. Many unemployed chefs from aristocratic households opened their restaurants. Changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution and the dissolution of culinary guilds also contributed to the rise of restaurants in Europe.

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