The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

A Day in the Life of a Punahou Cafeteria Staff

Ava Mackie ’25


For busy students like myself, food fuels me for a long day of school. I rush to the cafeteria each lunch break to grab a turkey sandwich or a plate of pasta, and sit with my friends as I recharge my energy. Behind each delicious lunch dish at the Punahou cafeteria is a crew of caring staff. To learn more about them, I asked a cook at the cafeteria to run me through a day in his life, his personal journey of becoming a Punahou staff, and his roles in the kitchen. The chef I interviewed preferred to stay anonymous.


6:00 AM – Group Meeting


Every morning, all cafeteria staff join a 5-minute meeting. 


6:00–10:00 AM – Cooking 


This is when the magic happens –  the staff prepare the dishes for the day and/or prepare for the next day. 


10:00 AM–12:30 PM – Service


Academy students rush in and out during their various lunch breaks. The cook stays in the kitchen during this busy time and makes extra food as needed.


12:30 PM–1:00 PM – Clean Up


Cleaning includes tasks such as sweeping the floor, mopping the floor, and sanitizing counters and carts.


1:00 PM–1:30 PM – Lunch Break


1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Additional Food Prep, Clean Up


After a long day feeding Punahou students and faculty, the cook’s shift officially ends at 2:30 PM. 


The cook I interviewed has a broad background in restaurant cooking. He is passionate about cooking and feels the most comfortable working in a kitchen, despite the demanding nature of working in a restaurant. Now, as a Punahou chef, he enjoys staying home during holiday breaks and not having late-night shifts. 


During his first three years working at Punahou, he started as a dish-room lead and assistant cook. As a dish-room lead, he supervised the day-to-day operations of the dish room. He made sure the dishwashing process was completed properly and in a timely manner. When he was an assistant, he supported the main cooks with any tasks. 


He also noted the most difficult part of working at the Punahou cafeteria is producing hundreds of servings of food at once to feed the whole community. The process requires lots of handiwork; it takes approximately three hours to prepare one day’s worth of food, although the preparation time varies depending on the menu. Nevertheless, the chef acknowledged that every member of the cafeteria community fulfills their role to efficiently serve Punahou students and staff. 


Finally, the chef would like Punahou students to know that the cafeteria members try their best to keep their costs down and serve food that students and faculty will enjoy. It “warms the cafeteria members’ hearts” when they see students and faculty digging into a meal they created with much care and effort. 


The cafeteria serves decadent meals day by day, and it is easy to take the cafeteria staff for granted. The next time you put Italian sausage pasta or teriyaki tofu in your mouth, take a moment of gratitude for the hardworking Punahou Cafeteria staff. 


Special thanks to Ayaka Ikeda ‘26 for arranging the interview.

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