Celebrity chef Rachael Ray will call Sylvia Smith of Hicksville a “rock star” and present the 86-year-old recently retired waitress with a Caribbean cruise during an episode of her eponymous daytime show airing Thursday.
Smith served customers at the Plainview Diner for 43 years; her last shift was on Oct. 21. “This is my kind of rock star,” Ray says. “A career waitress retiring at 86 years of age after 43 years of service.”
In the episode, which will air at 10 a.m. on WABC/Channel 7, Ray shows clips from Newsday’s coverage of the snowy-haired Smith, who was featured in the Act 2 section and online at newsday.com earlier this month, and she asks Smith what she plans to do in retirement — “something with veterans or children,” Smith answers.
“We thought, before you went to work again, for veterans and other good causes, you might want to take a little something that we all call a vacation,” Ray says, lifting a silver dome from a tray and revealing a ticket for an eight-day, eastern Caribbean oceanview cruise on the Carnival Sunshine.
“People can finally wait on you now,” Ray says, hugging Smith and telling her to have a great time.
The segment was taped on Tuesday at Ray’s kitchen studio in Manhattan, and Plainview Diner owner John Papavasilopoulos and his son, Niko, were in the audience. “It was really cool,” Niko says.
Smith worked five days a week at the diner, usually the 5 p.m. to midnight shift. She is so well-known in the Plainview community that she rides in a convertible each year in the Memorial Day parade, and a portrait of her hangs above a booth in the diner.