Danny Lau, Food Service Worker
“They like when I cook, because I cook their Asian favorites,” said Danny Lau of the students who visit Showtime on Thursdays, where he serves food every week as “Food Service Worker 3.”
Lau said that students sometimes “wait over half an hour in the line” for the days he is cooking; the days he cooks fried rice are especially known for this wait. Lau estimates about 140 people show up to the days he is cooking, when the typical average is around 70 people.
However, Lau works five days of the week and only one day is spent at Showtime. His other days, Lau takes care of the salad bar and assists with events at the university, such as making the food trays and cookies.
Lau was born in Hong Kong, China and moved to the States in 1977. Starting in San Francisco, Lau worked at his uncle’s restaurant for 10 years. He then moved to the Chicago area. After working at another restaurant for a year, Lau sold his home and came to Springfield.
He worked at a couple of different restaurants until he decided, “You get older and work six days a week at the Chinese restaurant, so I changed and came here.”
Lau continued, “I saw the newspaper saying that UIS was hiring people, so I applied and went to Human Resources at that time.”
In 2004, Lau began as a dishwasher. Close to four years later, he got the opportunity to cook.
Director of University Dining Services Geoffrey Evans, who is Lau’s supervisor, said Lau moved up quickly through the positions because of his experience working in Chinese restaurants.
“He’s done a great job,” said Evans. “He’s had the same attitude he had washing dishes as he always has. Always helpful, never down.”
During his time at UIS, Lau says one of his favorite things is his coworkers. “They teach meEnglish, I teach them Chinese.”
He continued jokingly, “I just want to teach them some different Asian cuisine. Teach my co-workers, teach them how to cook and I can retire.”
When Lau is not at UIS, he spends his time at home with his family. Lau said, “My wife always says, ‘don’t cook salty,’” as he discussed cooking dinner with his wife of 33 years, Peggy Lau.
He also works on his yard during his time off. Lau’s oldest son, Joseph, lives in Chatham with his family, giving Lau the ability to see his family often and babysit his grandsons on the weekends.
His youngest son also lives close by. However, his brothers have lived in London since 1977, so Lau visits the UK often. One aspect of his life that Lau carries with him is his cooking.
Food Service Executive Chief Howard Seidel said that Lau is “very, very positive. I’ve worked with him for nine years now. Always in a very helpful mood. … He’ll stop what he’s doing and do some dishes or pots and pans. He has just a very strong work ethic. He’s very well-liked.”
Evans agreed. “[Lau is] an excellent employee. Top-notch. He’s very reliable, very dedicated, and has a great attitude.”