For most of us, Chinese food is nearly as American as apple-pie cuisine. According to the Chinese American Restaurant Association there are three times more Chinese restaurants than McDonald’s restaurants nationwide.
And, in our new age of incredible door-to-door food delivery, Chinese food remains the second most frequently ordered food item.
Warrenton has its share of Chinese-food options. One of those is Hunan Café in the Oak Springs Plaza Shopping Center, nestled near other favorites like Giant, G. Whillikers and Banners Hallmark.
Closed on Mondays, on most other days when you step up to the counter to place your order, you’ll be greeted by a pleasant young man who has worked there on and off for about three years.
Meet Kerian McDonald. A graduate of Fauquier High School, McDonald has called Fauquier County home for about 15 of his 22 years.
“I was born in Pensacola, Florida. My parents were in the Navy at the time, and I was born on base. We moved around a lot in my early childhood, we eventually settled in Fauquier,” said McDonald, who started as a part-time delivery driver and then in May of last year accepted a full-time position as the shop assistant.
With the frigid temperatures we’ve been having, McDonald recommends his favorite dish – eggplant with garlic sauce to warm up your taste buds and cold bones.
“It's rich and very spicy, excellent meal for a chilly winter evening,” said McDonald who has found a happy work home at Hunan Café.
“I love working at Hunan. Jeff and Tina (the managers) are amazing people and have been really great to me as long as I've worked here. We have a very hard-working kitchen staff who are dedicated to always producing the highest quality food from fresh ingredients. It's great because their food is so good that it makes my job of serving and communicating with customers as easy as possible,” said McDonald adding, “I love my co-workers, they're all wonderful people and we have quite a lot of fun together.”
McDonald knows the menu inside and out and shares his enthusiasm with the customers, particularly those who frequent the restaurant often.
“Our business thrives because of our regulars, who we are so thankful for, and who often brighten my day with stimulating conversations, stories, and jokes,” said McDonald, who admits that working in the food-service industry can be challenging.
“It can be difficult and at times feel very dehumanizing, but when you have regulars who come in, acknowledge you as an individual and not just a restaurant employee, and engage in meaningful conversation it can be a huge lift to your spirits,” said McDonald who, when he isn’t at the restaurant, enjoys music, sports, going to the movies, and, one of his passions, talking politics.
“I played football and rugby for years, and have recently become a pretty big soccer fan, I try to go to as many D.C. United games as possible,” said McDonald. “I'm also (sadly) obsessed with politics and current events, and try to engage in different types of activism.
McDonald has two siblings: A younger sister, also a Fauquier High graduate, who is currently enrolled in the nursing program at Lord Fairfax and a younger brother who attends Coleman Elementary in Marshall.
McDonald’s future academic plans include finishing his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Mary Washington and possibly pursuing a career in education.
Living in the northern part of the county in Orlean, McDonald enjoys the scenery every time he makes the drive into town.
“I constantly find myself in awe of the natural beauty of this county, especially Northern Fauquier. I consider it a privilege to be able to wake up every morning and drive through the rolling green hills and beautiful forests of this area. No matter where I've been, or where life takes me from here, I'll always consider Fauquier County home,” said McDonald.
Next time you are in the Hunan Café, remember to give a shout out to Kerian McDonald. He always welcomes a friendly hello and, when it comes to customer service, you won’t find a more smiling and ready to help staffer. And, you might want to consider ordering the eggplant.
Visit www.hunancafeus.comor call 540-680-2302.
Reach Anita Sherman at firstname.lastname@example.org