Our Head Chef and Catering Manager talk about food
Interview with our Head Chef, Martin James, and Catering Manager, Mario Chacon.
What are your main roles in the College community?
The role as Head Chef is to ensure everyone that needs feeding gets fed - simply put!
As a team we cater for students and staff on a daily basis and of course provide out of hours meals as well. We also take care of ordering stock and that’s not just food, but everything else associated with it. We order as much fresh food as possible, from local suppliers where we can and pride ourselves on being able to offer delicious, healthy, home-cooked dishes.
I would say we have one of the best catering teams in Cambridge with super friendly servery staff and two excellent cake makers and dessert specialists - who doesn’t like a cheeky sweet item here and there… that makes everyone happy.
During normal times we cater for events and provide for both internal and for external customers. Two very important and popular events are the Formal Halls and graduations which usually form such an integral part of college life and we can’t wait to see them back.
We also run the Nautilus Café, which is also open to the public in normal circumstances.
How do you support the students in their College life?
At Lucy we offer much more than just food although we do aim to help them forget their stresses for a bit by having something to look forward to, offering a healthy variety of tasty, filling meals. The hall and cafe also provide perfect opportunities for students to get away from their work and socialise for a bit (as much as you can presently). We maintain a relaxed atmosphere in both venues and do our best to create a friendly environment where the students can feel comfortable and happy. We continually look for ways to engage with them and stay open to their ideas and suggestions.
We always have something for everyone, including healthy, vegetarian (veggie Thursdays) and vegan options, and our chef caters for a wide variety of dietary requirements. All of our food is sourced from best practice suppliers and we track and display the CO2 generated in production and transportation. Whenever possible we also source our produce locally (i.e carrots from Ely, chicken from Suffolk).
More recently we’ve provided extra services to help students if they’re isolating or in quarantine. We also made up Christmas food hampers and Easter boxes for them to enjoy over the festive period.
What are the best things about your job?
The best thing at the moment is seeing that the students seem happy and comfortable when coming to the hall and the cafe; they are aware of the rules and have adapted very quickly, and it’s nice to see they are happy being here.
And also emptiness! Clean plates and clean servery dishes mean no waste and no need to freeze!
What do you love best about the Lucy community?
The interaction. There is no one here who I couldn’t talk to or feel free to approach to ask a question or say hi to. Lucy has a relatively casual and relaxed atmosphere where everybody feels comfortable. We have great students who are friendly, and that is also the case with staff.