In SwaySnacks & Sips

Here Comes the Chew Chew Train

Yes, in A.D. 2024, railroad chefs are still a thing — and yes, this niche job is as interesting as it sounds. Meet Alan Miller, the executive chef for the Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway, the largest private railway in North Carolina. He first heard about the opportunity to work on a train in LA, which has a competitive chef market to begin with. His career was on the right track from there.

Every train car kitchen is different — and while Alan doesn’t mind small working spaces, he says the rocking does take some getting used to. Imagine trying to boil a pot of pasta. Every trip is also different; he’s even cooked for Wes Anderson.

“My favorite part is the travel,” says Alan. “You get to go to sleep and wake up in a new city, or chop things while looking out the window, and it’s constantly changing.”

Alan often choo-chooses to switch up the menu and source local ingredients wherever he is: Salmon from Seattle, jambalaya when near New Orleans. He’s been on the team of the ACW, owned by Robert and Rita Menzies, since November 2023 and has cooked for private and public excursions. Rita says his desserts are to die for.

“I’ve learned to be prepared,” says Alan. “You can’t just run to the grocery store when you forget something.” You also have to conserve resources, like hot water, during high-demand times.

Although the American railroad is now mainly freight, train travel is seeing a bit of a resurgence. In ACW’s small but growing fleet of luxury cars, each is entirely unique with its own historical elements. The Menzies Vista passenger car even has original china off the Union Pacific Railway.

“I think private rail transportation isn’t as well advertised, but it’s an option out there. And private railcars are so Americana,” says Alan.

So how does one ride a fancy railcar? Inquire with Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railwayor keep a lookout for ticketed experiences, like the Christmas and Easter excusions.

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