If you want a genuine smile on a rough day and food not made on an assembly line, turn to Grille Works at the Marketplace Cafe. Sometimes the only thing to make you feel better is a good burger and a “Hey, how are you doing?” from Ray. You know Ray. The guy who asks how you are and then keeps asking. The guy who picks on you for forgetting about him and choosing the Sadler Center’s buffet style instead of Ray’s style. The guy who looks into your eyes and gives you a genuine smile every time he hands you your burger and says, “Have a nice day.” That laugh that makes you smile.
Raymond Scott has worked as a chef at the College of William and Mary’s Marketplace for three years. His main domain is Grille Works. He can make anything, according to the only reliable source — Ray.
“Mr. Ray will hook you up,” he said with a smile. “Tell me what you want for dinner one night, and I’ll go get it.”
Ray’s face lit up as he told me he simply loves cooking and loves seeing smiles on the students’ faces. He tries to remember each student’s regular order so that when he sees the student walk toward Grille Works, he can get a head start preparing the order and hopefully minimize the student’s wait time.
Nick Rance ’16 always enjoys seeing Ray at the Grille.
“[I love] his willingness to make a personal connection with students, ask about our days and classes, [and] learn our names and stuff like that,” Rance said.
Ray thoroughly enjoys his craft.
“I’m all about pride in my food when I cook it; I like it to look good and taste good”.
According to Ray, everything the cafeteria workers make at the College has a recipe. He explained that workers have some leeway to change the recipe here and there if it results in a better product than the original. Ray admits to taking advantage of this freedom from time to time and running with it. He said he uses the cooking skills he learned from his mother to give the food a bit more kick.
“A lot of the chefs here tell me they went to culinary school, and I say the best culinary school is your momma. She taught me everything I know,” he said.
Ray confessed that his interest in cooking is something he owes to his mom.
A single mom and an aunt raised Ray, along with his six siblings and two cousins.
“I would stand in the kitchen while she cooked things for the holidays, and eventually she started letting me help her cook,” he said. “That’s how I first fell in love with cooking, and I’ve been in love with it ever since.”
Eventually, Ray learned to make his best and favorite dish, homemade sweet potato pie. Due to the shameless pestering of one particular Flat Hat reporter, he promised he would try to make sweet potato pie one day in Marketplace for the students. Sweet potato pie lovers should be on the lookout now that Ray’s promise is in print. Unsurprisingly, when asked who was the most influential person in his life, he paused, smiled, and stated that it is his mom.
“That’s the one, my mom, the only one. She molded us [him and his siblings], she taught us right from wrong, to love others, respect other’s feelings, and always treat others how you wish to be treated,” he said.
According to Ray, his mom took the idea of respecting everyone in every way and applied it to cooking.
“She told me if you ever cook for someone else to always make sure the food you pass out to other people, you would eat yourself,” he said.
Ray’s mom not only knew the secret to putting her foot in her food, she also knew how to move her feet to a less domestic beat.
“As a child my mother loved dancing,” Ray said.
According to Ray, at 92 years old she still loves to take to the dance floor.
Now, Ray is a single father who has been raising an ambitious 17-year-old son on his own for 10 years. He said his relationship with his son is just as strong as his relationship with his mother.
He takes pride in his son’s good grades and noted that he wants to work in the medical field. Of course, his son is considering applying to the College. Ray joked that this would require that his son partake in another four years of his cooking.
Ray also confided that when he was younger, he dreamed of becoming a professional gospel singer. He gave up on this after he realized that his voice did not have the commercial appeal required to support such a career. That said, he noted it was a childhood dream. His inspirations ranged from James Brown to James Cleveland. Even now, Ray hasn’t completely given up on his dream.
“I like to see all people get along. I don’t care what race you are, where you come from, everybody [seeing] everybody get together, and gospel is a type of thing that brings people together,” he said.
He said if he could change anything in his life, he would change his voice and become a part-time gospel singer.
“I want [students] to have what I didn’t have, someone that can be there for them and always encourage them … to continue to fight on. You are going to get stronger. You are going to get better. Nothing can stop your joy,” he said.
Ray admitted that he loves affecting young people’s lives.
“I try my best to make everybody happy. It is all I want in life, to see all these kids that I have influenced over the years of cooking breakfast for them, talking to them and getting to know them, that they get better and they are going to graduate and have a good life,” he said.