Cooked to Perfection

Employee in Amtrak Test Kitchen

Thanks to Top Chef, Anthony Bourdain and Whole Foods, everyone’s a food critic these days. But here’s someone that’s just the right mix of sugar and spice.

Meet Arlene. She’s one of Amtrak’s best chefs (and even has the award to prove it!). She works in the kitchen aboard the Lake Shore Limited, which runs between New York City and Chicago.

When we met up at Amtrak’s test kitchen, she was working along side culinary greats like Michel Richard and Sara Jenkins, dreaming up new dishes for our long-distance services.

“I pray that mine gets chosen,” Arlene says, who created a turkey meatball pasta piled high with vegetables.

Cooks like her are responsible for the hot, made-to-order meals that are served in our dining cars. If you haven’t ever eaten a sit-down meal on one of our trains, go here to see what you’re missing.

“We serve hot meals on the train that are made when you order them,” she says. “We accommodate everyone in the dining car. We want them to come try our meals. A lot of people don’t even know we offer them.”

That should change, especially if you’re traveling between Chi-town and the Big Apple with Arlene. She incorporates lots of vegetables into her meals, because “people need their vitamins,” and even created a gluten-free option when we met up at the Amtrak test kitchen.

Amtrak Test Kitchen Vegetables

“Personally, my favorite thing to cook is to make sautéed vegetables and oven-fried chicken,” she says.

“I cook for my family all the time. They like the ox tail that I do the best, over peas and rice.”

Woah, ox tail! Didn’t see that coming, did you?

No worries, there’s not going to be ox tail on the trains anytime soon, but there are a whole lot of other options that foodies should check out. Quite frankly, grab a napkin, because were just getting started!