We all share the love for food. This week is dedicated to the Week of Taste, we thus decided to have a chat with the new chef of Yangpu Eurocampus, Roger Maurer, who joined the canteen team over a month ago.
Hello Chef Roger! We are thrilled to meet you. How is your integration in Yangpu going?
It’s going very well! My team and coworkers welcomed me nicely. I started on August 21 and jumped right into it to deep clean the kitchen and prepare lunch for the teachers working during summer camps.
What did you do before joining the Eurocampus?
I am from Zurich, Switzerland, which is in the Swiss-German part of the country. I have been working in Shanghai for many years. I worked at the Cotton’s restaurant in the former French Concession for two years and used to be the head chef of Abbey Road before that, which specialised in German and Swiss food.
How did your passion for gastronomy start? What made you want to become a chef?
It all started with my grandmother who had a restaurant in Switzerland. I spent a lot of time hanging out in the kitchen with her when I was a kid. I remember looking at her working, smelling, and tasting food. I also helped her sometimes.
In Switzerland, you must do internships in high school to develop career interests. With my background growing up in a kitchen, I did an internship with the purpose of becoming a chef, and it just clicked. It really worked for me.
Is it the first time you work in a school?
Yes, I come from the “A la carte” business industry, it is my first time working in this type of organisation. I had to learn a new way of cooking, and a different time management operation. I like it, the team is great, they are very supporting.
According to you, what are the differences between being a chef in a restaurant, and a chef in a school canteen?
I think the first big difference is the amount of food we send out. We prepare food every morning from scratch on the Eurocampus, and everything is delivered fresh. The time window is very small, we only have around three hours to cook all the dishes and organise our daily “mise en place”. It is a totally different operation in comparison with an “A la carte” business.
The main team includes 6 chefs and many helpers per section.
If you had to choose one recipe among the ones you love following, which one would it be and why?
That is a difficult question! I like cooking simple things. I come from a mountainous area, we Swiss like comfy homy food. I would typically cook a winter dish like the Alpin Casserole with a cheese sauce, macaroni, bacon, ham, onions, and potatoes. Swiss people love cheese so you will almost always need cheese in a winter recipe.
Do you have a childhood culinary memory you would like to share with us?
It is funny because this childhood memory is once more linked with my grandmother. (Laughs) We used to spend Sundays with her and when we were playing card games, she would always cook pies of every sort for us, following the seasons: cheese, strawberry, peach, cranberry. This is one of my most cherished memories, I remember feeling so excited before Sunday because I knew we would have fun and there would be pie!
Is there a particular restaurant you like in Shanghai and why?
One of my favourite restaurants is Commune Social where they create a nice fusion between Spanish tapas and Western type of food. Both the cooking and the presentation are great. They also have a very good lunch deal, and their garden creates a really nice atmosphere.
The kindergarten students of Yangpu will go on an chocolate adventure this week and visit the Zotter chocolate factory! Our Grade 4 students will join a crepes party organised by their teachers to celebrate World Food Day on Friday!