I am starting to think that the free meals are made possible by the fact that the cook doesn’t have to work under a lot of stress. In comparison to a restaurant, a cook for the free meal sites only needs to cook one kind of meal for everybody. The restaurant cook has to cook several small meals with individual requests.
There is a certain value placed on the individual meal. That value tends to be higher. Imagine the difference between cooking 20 different meals to cooking the same meal for 20 different people. There seems to be a certain efficient parameter that a cook can work under.
There is so much more you have to know as a cook when cooking for different tastes each night. Not all food cooks the same. Chicken is different from beef. But for the cooks at the free meal sites, they just need to know one thing for the meals. They don’t have to be too mindful of several different foods.
In the lumberjack days, th cook generally cooked one kind of meal, and it seemed to mostly involve flapjacks in some way. There is a certain kind of comfort in doing one thing really well. I would think the more successful cooks specialize in cooking a lot of one type of thing. This transfers very easily into the free meal sites.