Newport resident Debbie Seevers loves to cook.
In fact, she loves to cook so much she has to cook for over 100 people on a daily basis.
For the past 16 years Seevers has been serving as a cook at the Washington County Jail, where she currently serves as the head cook.
KEVIN PIERSON The Marietta Times
Washington County Jail head cook Debbie Seevers prepares a tray for an inmate at the Washington County Jail Wednesday morning. Seevers has been a cook at the jail for over 16 years.
"I don't think there's a place I'd rather work than here," Seevers said.
Along with her experience as a cook at the county jail, Seevers has also been a cook at the Betsey Mills Club for two years and prior to that served as a cook and waitress at Woolworth's during her high school years.
Question: What made you want to become a cook?
Answer: Ever since I was little I watched my mom cook and I enjoyed it. I don't like to follow a recipe. I make my own. I have a lot of cookbooks, but I see someone else's recipe and I like to make my own off of it. I enjoy this job a lot. You're always working with somebody different. It's like it's a new job every day. You're not always working with the same people.
Q: What are your responsibilities as head cook at the Washington County Jail?
A: I'm a supervisor of the kitchen. I do all the food ordering and making sure all the meals go out on time. If one of the other cooks has a problem, we sit down and make sure we get it resolved. I take care of the kitchen. My job duty is to keep the inmate workers under control when they're in the kitchen. We have inspections from the county and state, so I make sure the kitchen is clean for those. I also do the scheduling.
Q: What's it like preparing food for all the inmates and employees at the county jail?
A: We can have up to 130-some people. It's harder for me to cook for me and my husband now because there's only two of us. I could supply my entire neighborhood with food. It's harder now just to cook for two than a lot of people. I don't think I could cook for any less. I just come in here, throw my kettles on and begin to cook. In a restaurant, you may have 50 different orders. Here, it's only one. It makes it so much easier to prepare.
Q: What do you enjoy about being the cook at the county jail?
A: Working with all the inmates. We're only here to listen. You hear all the different types of stories. We're always working with somebody new. You're working with new (Corrections Officers) because they go from here to the road.
You wonder what does the inmate worker have to complain about when they walk in the kitchen today. You're hearing the inside scoop of what's going on in the block by listening to the workers.
Q: How do you go about preparing food for the inmates? Are there any special tools or utensils you have to use in the jail?
A: We work with knives and everything. I have spoons. I have all the utensils to work with. You trust an inmate, but you don't trust them. The inmate workers don't use our knives, but the cooks do. It's the same as in a restaurant. We have everything they do out there. The difference is we have our utensil drawer under lock and key.
Q: What's it like having all these people, particularly inmates, go through your kitchen on a daily basis?
A: I don't even notice. The first day, when I started the inmates weren't in the kitchen yet. When the inmate workers came into the kitchen I thought 'Oh God, what did I get myself into.' After a couple seconds it was over. I never thought about it again.
Kevin Pierson conducted the interview.