Most kids grow up riding bikes around the block or playing tag at recess. Senior Amy Broat grew up playing “spies” on top of a walk-in freezer and “cars” in the grand ballroom of the hotel she lived in.
Amy’s father, Raymond Broat, worked as an executive chef in the Sheraton hotel chains. Because of this, the family moved every couple of years to a different Sheraton hotel, including ones in Connecticut and New Orleans.
Raymond even had his own cooking show called “Fairfield Connection” and had a book written about him called “A Day in the Life of a Chef.”
Raymond’s show aired on the radio. He would reveal one ingredient of his dish at a time between songs, allowing the listeners to think about what he was preparing. Listeners could call in to guess, and the first caller who correctly guessed Raymond’s dish would win a free dinner at one of his restaurants.
“I always made unique dishes on the show,” Raymond said. “It was a lot of fun and people enjoyed it.”
Raymond had the opportunity to cook for celebrities such as Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Pavarotti and Hulk Hogan.
“I used to love going to the grand ballroom because we would take the luggage carts from the lobby and race across the room,” Amy said. “I cannot remember much about living in the hotels, but that was one of the most fun things I can remember.”
When they lived in Connecticut, Amy remembers living on the 42nd floor and having to evacuate for fire drills.
“I can just imagine my mother running down 42 flights of stairs with a baby in her arms and a little toddler at her side,” she said. “Those fire alarms used to go off all of the time, and my mother was always so paranoid.”
Once the girls were old enough to attend school, the Broat family moved to Michigan and opened a restaurant called, Coast to Coast Deli. The inspiration for the name was the multiple spots along different coasts Raymond had lived. The menu sections are “Gulf Coast,” “East Coast,” and “West Coast.”
Amy created many of her fondest memories at this deli. One of her strongest memories is having her birthday party at the deli every year when she was younger.
“All of the games were based around things at the deli,” Amy said. “For example we used pickle buckets and threw ping-pong balls into buckets.”
Catering for her parties was never an issue, she said.
“Everything was cooked at the restaurant, and we even got to plan our own menu,” she said. “It felt like we had hired a caterer. The food always looked so fancy.”
Amy’s sister Alison said she loved the parties also.
“One time I didn’t want cake for my birthday,” Alison said. “So Dad took the frozen cookie dough in the deli and made us ice cream with cookie dough instead.”
Amy said the days spent catering with her dad were the best. She started catering events with her dad around the age of six. The most enjoyable part of catering was that it was a special bonding moment between her and her dad. That bond still holds strong today.
“Every time I go to the deli it is like a big family reunion,” Amy said. “The whole family is there.”
“I love having Amy around,” Raymond said. “She knows what she is doing, and I feel comfortable letting her go in the kitchen. She is an excellent cook and has a good head on her shoulders.”
When asked if Raymond would ever give the reigns over to Amy, he said he thought she was more than capable of running the business.
“Would I ever take over? When he tells me he will retire, I might seriously consider it, but I don’t know,” Amy said. “It is hard for me to fathom not having my dad run the deli. Maybe if I get sick of teaching someday I will go back to the deli.”