“It’s a busy day here - we always have a lot of meals to prepare” - Sean P. Napier (Executive Chef)
Next year marks the 5th anniversary of Chef Napier’s time at Brentwood. He helps coordinate the 1300 meals prepared each day in the Brentwood kitchen. Based on the number of plates used, this includes 500 at lunch (the largest meal of the day), and then 300 to 400 at both breakfast and dinner.
He and his staff have become “Victims of [their] own success” in regards to Brentwood’s “very popular” Sunday Brunch - it truly is a breakfast on steroids with everything from pancakes to pastries in a buffet layout: they strive to make their meals the “freshest” possible.
Though “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, the meal that most often attracts the largest crowds is Cookie Break. Before Chef Napier arrived at Brentwood, “the cookies were store bought”, but new “Brentwood formulas” (prepared two days ahead of time) have evolved: now, only crumbs remain.
At 7 a.m. every morning, ten staff members including the cook, cook’s helper, salad and sandwich bar organizers, dining room supervisor, two chefs, dessert assembler, and two dishwashers embrace the breakfast rush. Chef Renee and Chef Sean are the two joint managers of the kitchen - the chain of command then follows to the three cooks: “There are five supervisory people who set the pace [in the kitchen], but there are thirty of us that make everything go”, Mr. Napier explained, “David, like myself, has been in many different places. There’s a lot of experience back here [in the kitchen]”. There’s a lot of involvement to ensure maximum productivity.
Meals presented in the dining hall require four hours of hard work by a minimum of two staff members. Time constraints like those, including daily challenges, make every day a busy one in the Brentwood kitchen.
Chef Napier “subscribes to periodicals and websites to do with cooking” — in order to keep pace “with trends” to ensure the spontaneity of meals. This research also provides authenticity - the diverse corners Chef Napier draws his recipes from allow for a large culinary scope across cultures. His four year stint in Southern France, along with the experience of owning his own restaurant, Gossip, helped expand his culinary repertoire.
Having been established in the United Kingdom, owning a vegetarian restaurant in Japan, and serving as a chef in Thailand, Palm Springs, CA and Whistler, Chef David Sheffield has a lot of experience in the culinary world. He considers Brentwood’s kitchen as “world class”.
David develops the menu alongside Sean and Renee (who, along with Lisa B has been with Brentwood for over thirty years). His inspirations are the Asian congi, sliders and Cob salad. He especially enjoys the “Ode to Bacon” at Sunday Brunch. Though he wakes up at 4am for work, he loves “feeding the kids!”
The entire kitchen revolves around food - research, background, and delivery. In between funny moments in the kitchen (like flour covering staff members from head to toe), the chefs make it their priority to compile recipes into a data base, as well as supplement them with original Brentwood creations (150 and counting!).
Napier knows “how important it is to make good tasting, wholesome, meals” as he boarded at St. Michaels for seven years. It’s “imperative” to the cafeteria staff that they “identify” the student’s “likes and dislikes, but the other big responsibility” is ensuring that Brentwood students are “getting a nutritionally secure diet.” In simplest terms: the caf staff “could make grilled cheese every day, but nutritionally, that just doesn’t cut it.”
Thankfully, our chef is a firm believer in sharing his healthy recipes - he believes there’s “no such thing as a secret recipe [because] it’s not the recipe that counts, but the experience one brings to the kitchen”. Cooking food and “making it right isn’t trivial”. His motto is that “if you make it your goal to be the best, you’re always traveling in that direction, but there’s always room to keep improving”. The dining hall staff tries to “maintain the constants that everybody likes, while still try to look into other menu items” to ensure every Brentwood student leaves healthy and full.
Valuing the idea that “a family who eats together, stays together”, we’re glad Chef Napier and his team have expanded their family dinners to include not only his wife Rochelle and two daughters, but also the Brentwood community.
Rachael K and Annie L
< Fabrications Champions 2012