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One Tank Trip: The Shady Maple kitchen

One Tank Trip: The Shady Maple kitchen

EAST EARL TWP., Pa. - Last week, we gave you the history behind one of the largest smorgasbords around.

This week, we're taking you behind the scenes and into Shady Maple's kitchen.

Out in the restaurant, there are 200 feet of food every day except Sunday. It's all Pennsylvania Dutch cooking at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord in Lancaster County.

"It's more like a tourist attraction than just a restaurant," explained Sumer Smith, the smorgasbord's quality control manager,

The average diner goes through seven plates. To keep up with the demand, 26 people are on the dish-cleaning crew for dinner on a Saturday night.

It's busy back in the kitchen where Smith gave us a tour. We watched as they made the soups, filling, macaroni and cheese, chili and chicken pot pie.

The spoon used for stirring the pot pie could double as a boat oar.

Remember the scale. On just one day last year, they served 11,500 meals.

"Most restaurants buy a couple cases at a time. We buy palettes," said Smith.

They think big, and desserts are a plenty. They make their own doughnuts -- about a million a year.

Smith gets to try a bite before you do. As quality control manager, it's part of her job.

"I just take a little bit at a time. I used to maybe take a little more than you need to when I first started, but you learn to just take a little spoonful at a time," she said.

You can have more than a spoonful on your birthday, and they'll pick up the tab.

"Last year, we gave away 92,750 free birthday meals," said Elwood Martin, Shady Maple's president.

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