LFS Nostalgia

Moment of Genius


There are moments in food service when the next plate you are about to put up, in your estimation, is the best thing you have ever plated, and nothing else you have plated before, or in the future, can compare.

Such is the existential dilemma of a line cook. 

For once the ticket is sold, it's on to the next, and the next, and the next, and soon enough, the one that gave you pause to lament is forgotten, too.

But what if you invented something - a machine-  that could produce a uniform food outcome, no matter how untalented or unprofessional were the hands that pulled the crank of this apparatus. 

If there is an orderliness to the universe, food service professionals recognize it in perfectly executed mis-en-place. Surely, this invention would outlast the legacy of even the most skillful chef.  On our very best days in food service, customers still poop out the next day, what we so arduously seekt to capture and assemble the day before.

James Chambos, of Williamsville,NY, achieved this sort of  immortality on April 27, 1976 when he was issued  U.S .Patent Number  3952621 - Potato cutting machine. A native Western New Yorker inserted his creative genius into the glorious history of the french fry,  and developed an entire sub-category of one of the most consumed food products on earth.

Chambos, in his patent, makes no claim to the invention of the product that is now marketed by multiple fast food chains world-wide..  His claim, and subsequent patent, rests squarely on the advancement of an earlier patent (Ross,1950). 

Now we must quote directly from the literature for accuracy: "...(Chambo's) machine cuts potatoes into multiple helical strips; the potato is rotated and moved toward a cutter having a series of parallel scoring knives projecting toward the potato and extending along a radial line with respect to the axis of rotation for continuously slicing off the scored portions."

Voila - the Curly Q Fry was mechanized. Chambos did not invent the Curly Q Fry. He invented the process that made it better. That, in food service, is immortality.

Chambos was a food service operator, first and foremost.  For many years, he owned the Beef-n-Sirloin on Genesee Street near the airport that morphed into serving many different specialties besides his trademark Curly Q fries.  He was pre-deceased by his wife, Rita.  Last year, Chambos past away in southern Florida, a true legend, an innovator of Western New York food service, and should take his rightful place as a true pioneer of our local food culture.

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