While we might not see it on the outside, A lot of work goes into cooking for hundreds of kids regularly, and still, there is a lot more than cooking that goes into being a chef at C&C, so what is that?
First of all, lets give a little background on our head chef at C&C, Ramuel Lavarro. He has had quite the prestigious culinary career. He originally went to the ICC (International Culinary Center), previously known as the French Culinary Institute for his culinary degree. He previously worked at Vong, a French/Thai restaurant run by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who is a multiple-Michelin star chef. He also worked at Country, an innovative, fine dining experience crafted by Geoffrey Zakarian, one of the biggest names in the cooking industry. C&C is definitely lucky to have him. Now, what is Ram’s culinary process for having meals prepared consistently every day?
First, food items and ingredients are ordered in advance for lunch each week. “If it's products that we already have on hand then my orders will be smaller.” Said Ram. “If not then the amounts will go up. The most difficult part of the ordering process involves seasonal availability; some seasons just have more choices than others.”
Second, setting up the menu is one of the more difficult parts of the process. “There's a lot of thought that goes into setting up the menu: cost, product availability, overall daily nutritional content, etc.” Says Ram. “I keep detailed Lunch Production Notes for every lunch. This helps in not only determining the cost of the meal but what particular meals are the most popular among City & Country students.”
Third, while preparation might be an overlooked aspect by many, it is vastly important to the structure of any kitchen. Chef Ram says that the kitchen staff does a great majority of the preparation for the next meal the day before, and maybe even two days in advance, depending on the diligence from the day prior. “My general rule is to have things prepared so that when it comes time on the day of service, all that’s really needed is to assemble the components of each dish and then heat them back up.”
Finally, we’ve reached the actual cooking of everything. Ram says that he tries to have everything on the money prepared and ready to be served by 10:00 for two reasons: the staff is now ready for lunch service at 11:00 for upper schoolers and they are also prepared to bring food back in the school for the middle school lunch period.
Ordering, setting up the menu, preparation, and cooking all goes into making the meals that are so conveniently given to us. It is a lot of work, no matter how simple it might sound. “My goals have always been the same: to provide the community of City & Country with the best possible meals. Whether that means Chicken Tikki Masala or Mac 'n Cheese, I want to make sure that I'm serving food that everyone at the school will enjoy. I want everyone in the City & Country School community to know that what they're getting from out of the kitchen is food that's been made with care, attention, and thoughtfulness. In other words, I want people to eat!”