Meet Mischa, Chef de Cuisine of Restaurant La Scala at Roche
Hi, my name is…
…Mischa and I’m part of Tavero: Roche's own in-house catering company. I grew up in Basel, where I also began my training in a renowned fine-dining restaurant after I have finished school. To gain more experience after receiving my diploma, I travelled and worked in a number of different countries (including England, Estonia and Germany). I was engaged in various 5-star hotels. Back in Switzerland, I did my advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education to become an Executive Master Chef. Large operations have always fascinated me and I found it really challenging to lead a big team. Now that I’m the Chef de Cuisine of the main “La Scala” kitchen at Roche headquarters in Basel, I’m proud to be the head of a great 30-strong team.
My typical day at work is…
…about serving fresh delicious food to our employees during the lunch breaks for about 2’500 guests every day. Even though it’s on a large scale, we produce homemade meals with seasonal ingredients. Also we are responsible for the whole catering during events and all Roche cafeterias in Basel. A typical work day starts at 6 a.m.: firstly I check all freshly delivered food for quality. Depending on the menu and season we get different kind of foods; in an average day we use about 400 kg lettuce and vegetables, 100 kg fresh fruits, up to 400 kg of potatoes, 350 liters of soup and 250 kg fresh fish and meat for our menus. For the sides we boil 100 kg of pasta or rice. At 7 a.m. I hold a daily meeting with all chefs from the cold and warm kitchen to organise the day by defining the tasks and people in charge of each menu. During serving time I’m alternating between kitchen and the “front line” where my staff is in direct contact with our – mostly hungry – guests. I continuously check the quantity and quality of the dishes. Additionally to production, I have a daily block of administrative time to create new menus and work on new recipes.
The location I am working at…
…is Building 67 in Basel, where the restaurant and main kitchen are located. After a big renovation which was finished in November 2015, we have benefited from having the latest equipment and ideal conditions for production. With our pans we can cook for e.g. 20 kg carrots within one minute and just in time: when my colleagues at the buffet order more vegetables we start cooking more. This way we can improve quality in terms of temperature and color, avoid vitamin loss and reduce a lot of food waste! As the equipment allows to memorise cooking programmes, I can train every team member on the same cooking process - because I’m working with ten different nationalities this is really helpful.
My work helps Roche to…
…contribute the well-being of every Roche employee by providing a healthy lunch: we offer every day a “balanced” menu. This may be a fresh fish, fat-poor meat or a vegetarian/vegan dish. Also we offer a gluten- and lactose-free option daily. In addition, we have a wide selection of fresh lettuce and condiments at our salad corner. Every month I create the menu for our few staff restaurants located in Basel and Kaiseraugst. I always plan six weeks ahead for the subsidized menus, for the grill, pizza and pasta corner. It is important to consider the seasonal availabilities (e.g. asparagus) and arrange some variety to make sure all our (international) guests find their favourite lunch.
How would you describe the Roche Lunch-Culture?
It’s curious, but lunch at Roche is primarily used to network across departments and functions. It’s our contribution to innovation that employees have a tasty and healthy meal plus new insights and pleasant conversations. Every day I see people assembling in the lobby, greeting colleagues and talking to each other before having lunch together. Also we have a few cafeterias, where our employees have the possibility to chat while having a coffee or a snack.
What are you most proud of within your role?
I’m proud of my team: we are really passionate about our work – every day! A challenging situation was the reopening of our “La Scala” restaurant in November 2016 after a two-year renovation of building 67. We mastered the additional workload such as preopening test, relocation of our equipment and several trainings while maintaining business as usual with an interim restaurant solution in another building.
What do you do to help balance life and work?
Compared to other Chef de Cuisines I’m privileged to have an outstanding work-life-balance. The working hours are pretty good: my workday starts at 6a.m. and finishes early in the afternoon. I’m - in contrast with a regular restaurant - free in the evenings. I enjoy either riding my bike or training at the gym. In general a healthy lifestyle is very important to me; therefore I love to prepare energising fresh meals for myself in the evenings. In addition I’m about to finish my diploma as nutritionist coach. I like the idea of being supportive in choosing a fitter life-style for my clients. All this is part of the continuous creative process and inspires me for my future at Tavero.