“My name is Michal Borecki; I am the kitchen manager at Cezar’s Kitchen in the International School of the Sacred Heart. I think it’s been at least six years since I started working at Sacred Heart. I grew up in Poland, and when I was 21 years old I moved to England and lived there for six years. After that I moved to Japan, but I only started working as a chef in Japan.
As the kitchen manager, I have to make sure that everything is done on time, that the allergies are written on everything, that the bentos are labelled with the right stickers, and that the right food is inside each bento. Also, when the menus come from the office, we make some changes. I make the Meatless Mondays menu as part of the school project, so Mondays are my duty. Plus I make the menus for graduations and events for the teachers, so that’s part of my job.
On a typical day, the first thing I do is check my emails to see if I have any emails from the parents or from the students with any requests, like if they would like a special lunch or if there’s any cancellations or extra orders. From there I start cooking the rice and slowly get ready to cook lunch. Everyday we cut around 20 kilos of vegetables by hand. I don’t know if people imagine the amount of vegetables and everything we have to do to prepare every single day.
My favorite part of this job is seeing the kids eating everything we’ve made, and when they actually enjoy the food. Sometimes they come back and say the food was delicious. That’s the most exciting part. It’s gratifying to see the kids’ smiles when they eat my food, and seeing that everyone around me is happy with what I’m doing. But I’m happy with complaints too. Complaints are very important, especially in this industry. Because we have over 500 students here, you can not make every single person happy, but you try your best.
In Japan and my time in ISSH I’ve learned a lot about herbs and spices, especially here for the kids. I love spicy food but the kids may not. So my daughter, who’s 8 years old, is my taste tester. If I make food for her and she says it’s too spicy then I know I have to make it less spicy or less salty.
The hardest part of this job is worrying about the kids with allergies. You don’t want to harm any child. Every single day I have to check what kinds of allergies the kids have, and what I’m putting into the pots when I’m cooking. Now there’s bentos, which is hard because if I make a mistake it might cause a lot of trouble for the child. So that’s my responsibility. They put their trust in us, so we have to make sure that nothing happens to them.
I think all my life I liked to spend my time in the kitchen. Since my mom died I watched my father cook all the time. It was interesting for me, and when he wasn’t home I tried to make something by myself. So I started cooking when I was 11 years old.
I started working as kitchen help in Japan. I actually started at the bottom, cutting the vegetables and washing the dishes. After a few weeks I had been moved to dinner chef, when I used to work in the Canadian Academy in Osaka. After that I was promoted to be sous-chef, and I moved from Osaka to Tokyo when I started working as a kitchen manager in a Cezar’s Kitchen in Shirokane Takanawa, making school lunches and doing catering. And after one year I came here.
I think it’s important to eat at home with your family. Home food is something you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. That’s what I remember from my home—eating at home with my family. Stop eating McDonalds. Stop eating processed food. Try to create something by yourself. It’ll taste better and you can always make it as you like.” — Mr. Borecki