Editor’s note: Since this article was written Anoka-Ramsey has changed food vendors from Lancer Foods to A’viands, and Q left with Lancer Foods. The Campus Eye will follow up on this article with information about A’viands.
He’s one of the most important people on the Coon Rapids campus, yet most people don’t know his name. He spends all day in his 15 foot by 7 foot box taking requests from thousands and thousands of students, yet few tend to stay long enough to talk about his day. Quentin Banks, who goes by “Q,” has been up since 4 a.m., and he is ready to feed any student who comes to him on his grill.
Q’s line is generally always long. Being the guy on campus responsible for a hot burger can command that kind of attention. He’ll generally take a few orders at a time; enough to keep the line moving, but controlled enough to make sure he’ll be able to remember their orders. Banks has been trained for this moment, and spent years learning how to be ready for the demands of hungry mouths.
“I spent approximately eight years in my quest for food knowledge,” Banks exclaimed. He spent most of this time studying in Chicago, Illinois, following a lifelong love for the culinary arts and fine dining.
As Q takes an order, he repeats it all back to make sure he heard correctly. He’s already moving his hands to each ingredient he’ll need for the burger. Lining up his shot.
“Fries?” Q will ask.
He is almost always met with a quick “yes.” Q’s training is obvious, even though being on a college grill was not his culinary focus.
“I am classically trained in northern and southern Italian cuisine,” Q confessed. “I have studied, trained and worked side by side with some of the greatest chefs in the world… and in 5-star restaurants in the United States.”
He went on to say there were too many important chefs he learned from to single any of them out as true influencers to him. Even though this is the end of his first year with the college, you could never tell by his professionalism and talent. He still takes time with each student, making sure they are both on the same page of what is being ordered, and what will be delivered.
As Q is watching the beef sizzle on the flattop grill, adding pressure, and utilizing a cover to help cook it a little quicker, and more evenly. As he waits for the meat to cook enough, Banks will begin preparing the rest of the burger. Buns toasted, greens prepped, french fries in the fryer. Everything is happening at once, so everyone can wait as little as possible.
Then everything is done at the same time. In seemingly one motion, Q has gone from ingredients in three different areas, to a final product. He reaches out across the only open space between him, and the students.
“Burger and fries,” Q will bellow, notifying students that their food is ready. He holds onto the boat, and hands each completed meal to its intended recipient. His care for food shows, and he is happy to serve his community.
On the other end, gratitude it not guaranteed. While watching students receive their food, some will thank Banks for his cooking, and others will take their food and be on their way. It doesn’t bother Q though, he just gets right onto to another satisfied customer.
“I try to make the most of any and every professional work situation,” Q explained. “I enjoy the school atmosphere.”
While certainly not the most thanked job, Q is likely one of the most visited people at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. But to Quentin Banks, that’s not what it has ever been about. It’s always about a love for food.