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New Place, New Lessons: The Caf’s Rafael Machado

It is 5:55 a.m. and the sun hasn’t risen yet, the kitchen at PLNU is cold and a hot coffee is barely enough to keep Rafael Machado warm.

Rafael Machado, chef in the Caf is the new addition to the Sodexo family, taking the place of Chef Urs Emmenegger.

Machado comes to the kitchen and starts arranging the condiments for breakfast with the help of the cooks. Then Machado takes out items needed to prep for lunch. Without a break, he continues to make menus for catering events, for dinner and so on.

“A normal day is real busy, I don’t leave until the job is done, sometimes that is six or seven p.m.,” said Machado.

After working for seven years at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Machado felt as if it was time to take on a new challenge.

“I saw this job over here, I applied, talked to Miles, and the rest is history,” said Machado.

Miles Rottman, the Caf’s general manager, said Machado already works well at his new post in the Caf.

“Going through the applications, we found chef Rafael and he outshined, he had the fit we were looking for and is now working with us. He has been a great addition,” said Rottman.

Machado is trying to make the menu more attractive with a new salsa bar. The salsa bar consists of four different salsas that are available from breakfast through dinner every day of the week. The most served now are the Green Tomatillo salsa, Red salsa and the Belize salsa.

“It’s a challenge because it’s hard to please everybody. I do my best,” said Machado.

PLNU is quite a transition from Machado’s previous job.

“I came to the campus and it’s really different even though it’s Sodexo. Here is buffet [style], over there [at Sharp Grossmont] is a la carte. People buy single dishes [there], here we make it for all-you-can-eat buffet,” he said. “It’s good for me. The students challenge me beyond my knowledge. Most of the kids have different diets and I try to please them.”

Machado brought with him new dishes, such as carne asada and carnitas tacos. He hopes to add other continental food to the menu, such as Thai food. Machado gave recipe ideas to his coworkers and together they come up with new dishes. He wants to unite all the chefs so they can make on menu filled with dishes that complement each other.

“He’s a great chef. He doesn’t act like he’s above us, but instead helps us,” said cook Carlos Juarez, a catering chef who has worked for Sodexo for 24 years and for a month with Machado. “He has a positive attitude and communicates with all the cooks which is great.”

Machado said he wants students to feel free to contact him with any questions or concerns at his extension, 263.

“Feel free to ask me questions, I’m here to help,” said Machado.

Disclosure: Elsa Joaquin is currently employed by Sodexo.

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