Tom Lubski is the Catering Department’s Store Person, responsible for taking delivery of the food supplies coming into the College. We managed to catch a few minutes with Tom to find out more about his role and what it entails.
My day starts at 6am, but by then a number of deliveries will already have arrived and be waiting for me. I need to count the quantities to check everything is correct, check the temperatures and the quality, especially of meat and fish. I’m given a list from the Duty Chef of everything that has been ordered. For example, there may be 300kg of meat in 30 boxes so I will open every box and check the weight, temperature and quality. I had training with the Chef and I have been doing the job nearly 12 years so the longer I’ve been here the more I’ve found my experience has helped me.
The quantities of food you are dealing with must be huge!
On an average day we cater for 750 boys at breakfast and supper and 1000 people at lunch. We might order a hundred kilos of potatoes for Sunday roast or 400 chicken legs just for one lunch. We get through 50 loaves of bread, over 500 eggs and about 420 pints of milk each day, which includes milk for each Social, Coffee Shop, Catering and all the different departments.
Everything is ordered a couple of days in advance and stored in a big fridge. In addition to the normal meals, on some days we might have an event or function in the evening such as a Council dinner or Radleian Society event.
Do you get involved in other aspects of food preparation or supply?
During term-time I prepare packed lunches for sports matches and trips. Sometimes that’s particularly busy—this week I have 200 packed lunches to make altogether. I’m lucky because if I am really busy I know I can ask for help.
Each Social is able to order food like bread, cheese and eggs for the boys’ kitchens. I fulfil these orders weekly and the boys collect their supplies from me on Thursdays.
Sometimes I’m able to help in the kitchen—simple jobs but I always enjoy that.
How did you come to work at Radley?
I started working here in 2010. I knew Tomasz Kruszlinski, Radley’s Head Chef from 2008 to 2019. He suggested I apply for this job. I had been living in Slough and worked in a kitchen and before that in an Italian bakery. I had visited Radley once and thought it was a beautiful place, and I’ve stayed here ever since.
What do you think has changed since you joined?
The number of boys and staff here has increased, so the deliveries increase and I work more hours now—in term time I work six days a week, 6am – 4pm. I work in the holidays but only five days a week, catering for external Lets on site.
It was very difficult during Covid and with supply chain issues and food shortages recently. The marquees that were erected to give additional space during Covid restrictions meant we had to do everything twice to split the service between the counters and the marquee—that was a hard period for our team.
Sometimes there are issues with late deliveries, missing items or damaged produce. Occasionally more serious issues affect the availability of food. In late 2021 there was a period when there were problems with chicken supplies, CO2 supply chain shortages and then the fuel supply crisis. Sometimes the menus have to be changed at the last minute but we hope most of these issues stay behind the scenes!
What makes Radley a special place to work?
My managers are very helpful and friendly and as a team we work really well together, I can always ask if I have questions or need help. That’s why I’m still here, the team is great. I’ve worked in many different places and I know not everywhere is like Radley! It’s busy but we all help each other.