We know him as Daniel the sandwich man, but Daniel Madayag is much more than that.
“He’s the greatest person I’ve met in a long time,” said a co-worker, Shavondra Lock.
Miss Betty loves him, too. “Super smart; [most] intelligent young man I ever met. I love him with all my heart. He’d do anything you ask him.”
Growing up as a military brat from the Philippines, Madayag moved around about 20 times. Most of his non-adult life was spent in Japan, though a few of his early years were spent in the U.S. When his family moved to West Virginia and then North Carolina, he stayed. His first job upon returning to the U.S. was as a spark plug tester. Next, he worked at a warehouse, followed by a brief two days at McDonald’s, “which was disgusting,” he said. He went to another “beyond dirty” job in insulation afterwards. He also spent time at Taco Bell as a chef leader. Finally, through a temp agency, he was placed at Queens as a dishwasher.
This was all during his first year here.
“They saw potential. I learned pretty fast. Chef Roberto put me at [a] serving station, pizza station, baking, catering [and] cash register,” he explained about his experience here.
When asked what his favorite job has been, he replied with a grin, “Queens.”
“I grew up professionally and it made me more confident in myself and what I can accomplish and improve. I don’t have the military saying ‘you have to go now.’ I finally have long-term friends here. I don’t have to worry about making friends and leaving them. It’s my favorite job because people I work with are a positive influence. We work as a team. I’ve been given many opportunities.”
One of these opportunities is to spend time with his passion: baking. He is the baker, not the sandwich man.
Sept. 30 was one of his co-worker’s, Audrey Rodgers’, birthday. He brought in a chocolate cake with basket-weaved chocolate icing and icing flowers. The flowers took hours to make because of the care he put into them just to give her a happy day.
“He’s a good friend and employee,” said Rodgers, “He’ll do all he can not only for us but for the students. He’s irreplaceable.”
You can see Madayag pulling out cookie dough as the students are eating breakfast, or watch him mix up brownie batter at the start of lunch. When the cookies come warm out of the oven, that’s him too.
“The cookies produced by Daniel and the kitchen staff make it worth getting fat,” joked freshman Alexander Milton.
It’s the students who get him excited to be here. “Coming to work here, I do get excited getting to bake for you guys and the appreciation you guys give me. It helps my passion here.”
However, he was a bit afraid of the students at first.
“Every person I worked with in the bakery first year gets scared of how y’all are going to react. As I grew to experience the bakery, I grew to learn I need y’all feedback. That’s the one thing that changed me to enjoy what I’m doing.”
In addition to caring about the students — and their sweet teeth — and his coworkers, he has his family.
“I went to college at University of Maryland University College [in the] Asian division for my business and management [degree]. I still have one credit to finish, but I had to quit college to help my brother pay for his.”
His dream is to one day own his own restaurant. And to become a U.S. citizen, which he is studying for as you read this article.
“I’m waiting for the date to take my test,” he explained with a smile.
He is always smiling and laughing. “[I’ve] always been easy going, laid back. I’m not really strict. I have that caring personality. I’m acting myself.”
Sandwich to make: Club sandwich
Sandwich to eat: Chicken wrap, toasted, with ranch, lettuce and tomato
Thing to eat: “If I make it…chocolate cornets because I used to get them in Japan all the time.”
Sandwich to make: club sandwich Sandwich to eat: chicken wrap, toasted, with ranch, lettuce and tomato