Within the white walls of the Dining Center of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), omelet chef Edward “Fast Eddie” Ross cooks up a fresh batch of Penmen Passion, positively influencing the students, faculty, and staff five mornings a week. Every morning from Tuesday to Saturday, Fast Eddie is up and running at the omelet station, cooking as many as three different orders at once. Some students who come to order don’t have to utter a single word as he remembers their routine orders. From omelets to breakfast burritos to scrambled eggs,
Ross carries the skill of matching an order to the dozens of smiling faces who come to devour his dishes. “I love Fast Eddie’s omelets!” said sophomore Johnny Comeau III. “He never gets the orders wrong and cooks them perfectly. On top of that he’s funny and a pretty cool guy to talk to.”
From the first order, Ross will plop the chosen ingredients onto the skillet before taking his next order. As the ingredients simmer, Ross ladles liquid whole eggs or egg whites decided by the customer. By the time he takes his third order, he will already have received greetings of “Hi’s” and “How are you’s” from the previous two customers.
“Eddie is probably one of the most personable people in the dining hall,” said student Mary Shakshober, one of his regular customers. As he gives the cooking dish a pat of the rubber spatula and a flick of the wrist to give the eggs a flip, Ross finishes off with a sprinkle of the chosen cheese.
Whistling an improvised tune, Ross serves the finished product. Many students take pride in his cooking techniques. Eddie was intrigued to see the popularity of his dishes when he claims, “I’m just making omelets.” According to Ross, the nickname “Fast Eddie” was just a common nickname he was given throughout his work experience. He said Dave Cardenelli, manager of the SNHU coffee shops and one of his best friends, gave him a name tag about four years ago displaying “Fast Eddie” due to the popularity of his nickname.
At age 63, Ross came a long way in his youth before becoming the beloved SNHU omelet chef he is today. “I’ve tried other things before but it always came back to cooking,” he said. Growing up in Rutland, VT, Ross said he got his first job at 15 as a busboy and later toaster master at Howard Johnson’s. He said he found himself wanting to do the job the breakfast cooks were doing as he stood by the toaster.
“I kept saying, ‘I can do that. I can do that,” Ross said. At 16, Ross said he got his second job at a burger place until it closed in the summer of 1969. When he turned 19, Ross said he tried construction for a year and a half. Displeased with his experience, he moved on to retail in the men’s department of the Economy Store.
When a mall was built in Rutland in the 1970s, Ross said he became the assistant manager of one of its shoe stores. “I loved that job,” he said. While he enjoyed the fancy work attire his mom provided him as well as his working environment, the mall was about to open a Pizza Castle. Eddie said a man representing the restaurant searched throughout the mall for employees interested in working at the restaurant. Confident in his pizza-making abilities due to his brief experience at a pizza shop, Eddie took on a new role at Pizza Castle.
On March 1, 1976 after he turned 23, Ross said he moved to Manchester, N.H. to work at Domino’s Pizza, owned by a relative of his brother-in-law. “I said I was only going to stay for two or three months,” he explained. After mastering the art of pizza tossing and meeting his future wife, Ross found himself working at Domino’s for three years.
His love for pizza making drove him to move back to VT after he got married in 1979 and open up his own pizza shop. Ross said his pizza shop was built “two blocks from Green
Mountain College” in Poultney, VT. Because his wife was unhappy with where they lived, however, Ross only ran the shop for two years before he closed it and moved back to Manchester.
From 1982 to 1989, Ross’ omelet making fate drew near, as he became the “breakfast guy” at Pappy’s Pizza. He said he was the first person it hired to make breakfast at the restaurant. “I miss it the most,” Ross said reflecting on the job.
Similar to his SNHU customers, Ross said he remembered his customers’ routine orders to the point where he had them ready by the time they sat at their tables. His customers admired Ross so much to the point where he said they brought him Christmas and birthday gifts. Ross spent 14 more years working at Manchester Country Club and returned to Pappy’s Pizza for another couple of years before he found his true calling at SNHU.
Unsatisfied with his last job at Karen’s Kitchen in Bedford, N.H., Ross was recommended by his friend, Debbie Murphy, to work at SNHU. The office manager of the SNHU Dining Center, Murphy, originally worked with Eddie as an assistant chef at the country club. With her help,
Ross made his way into SNHU in 2009. “It was so different over there than I was used to,” he said about the school. When SNHU finally built the new Dining Center, Eddie said he was asked if he wanted to be the omelet guy. “Yeah, that’s the easiest job around,” he said with enthusiasm. This became one of the main reasons he kept his job at SNHU ever since.
When asked how his friendly relationships with the students develop, Eddie said it just
happened: “They say, ‘Hi Eddie.’ Everyone asks how I’m doing. Some of them tell me what’s happening in their lives.” Being “personable” with the students came naturally to Eddie, which made his Penmen Passion evident. “There’s always a smile on his face,” said student Alycia Miner.
Eddie’s fellow employees also noticed the presence of his passion while working for him. Food server Andrea Morales said, “Eddie is a really good friend and an awesome guy to work with. He makes the best omelets.” Another colleague, Pilar Demarti, found him to be a “great co-worker,” and also noticed the depth of the relationship he has with the students.
She said she has seen “the students come to visit after they graduate.” For the rest of his career, Eddie shall continue to not only serve omelets, but also serve the SNHU community with the positive impact he has made.