A Recipe for Success

A Closer Look at the Inner Workings of the Bishop’s Cafeteria


PC: Tristan Upton ('21)

Two of the cafeteria’s main rooms include multiple ovens, stoves, mixers, and tools.

The cafeteria at Bishop’s has long been an attraction for thousands of students, teachers, parents, and alumni over the course of the past several decades. Each day, the cafeteria and its cornucopia of high-quality food bring together hundreds of Bishopians over hot entrees, enticing pasta, and delightful salads. Every week, a kitchen staff of only five people manages to prepare and serve nearly 5,000 meals, including thousands of pounds of meat and fresh produce, and host all types of events around campus. 

With an emphasis on healthy, homemade food, the Bishop’s cafeteria team hustles and bustles around every day to prepare food that puts smiles on students’ faces. The team’s recipe for success has been compromised and communication with the students. There is constant communication among the team to accommodate the needs and satisfaction of students and faculty. 

The kitchen team has five members, with two main cooks and three assistants. The two main cooks do their thing at the front of the kitchen because transparency is important to them and they enjoy having “students to be able to see what’s going on,” according to Ms. Sara Sweet, Director of Food Services.

Ms. Sweet makes sure the kitchen runs smoothly. Her job includes making big decisions involved in weekly menu design, ordering food, communication, and coordinating food for events. When asked about the biggest challenges the kitchen faces, Ms. Sweet pointed out the sheer mountain of food that they must prepare daily – for example, they often need 300 pounds of pork for just one day of tacos. As a kitchen and culinary master at Bishop’s for 34 years, she has developed a deep connection to the school and its people. Beaming with school pride, she mentioned that her children attended Bishop’s as well. She praised the school’s positive environment, calling it “supportive and beautiful.”

She takes this attitude into the crafting of the menu each week. A dietician by trade, she cares deeply about students’ health and prioritizes creating food that can motivate and fuel students for the hours of studying and activities they have on any given school day. Furthermore, she believes in eating one hundred percent whole grains and is pleased that food health is becoming a bigger topic in society. Ms. Sweet admits, “what makes me really happy is when I go around and see students’ plates and they’re full of colorful vegetables.” 

“I’m all about good nutrition,” Ms. Sweet affirmed. Always a proponent of healthy eating, she even expressed an interest in starting a cooking or nutrition club again to promote healthy choices and good nutrition around campus. 

In ensuring only the highest quality food, ingredients are sourced directly from local suppliers, if possible. For example, the fresh bread stocked in the cafeteria is sourced directly from Bread and Cie, a local bakery in San Diego specializing in artisan bread. 

All ingredients the cafeteria uses, in fact, must be ordered and shipped from a supplier. Ms. Sweet mentions ordering from Cisco and sourcing from other produce companies that other restaurants in La Jolla also order from. Ms. Sweet also acknowledges that the process of ordering ingredients for an industrial-scale school cafeteria is different than simply stepping into a grocery store, which is what an average American could do for: “I can’t go to the store, even though I’m always going to the store,” she affirmed. Instead, Ms. Sweet must make phone calls or interact with salesmen who represent different produce companies. 

Ms. Sweet is always on the lookout for new recipes and finds inspiration from cookbooks and magazines. She always tries to “think about what students would like,” and decide whether a new menu item would be a success. Nevertheless, she asserts that she would love if more students came to her to suggest ideas for recipes, modifications, or feedback. 

In fact, students should feel welcome to come and speak to Ms. Sweet or any of the other kitchen staff at any time. According to Ms. Sweet, comments are always appreciated and the cafeteria is always interested in maintaining closer relationships with students and serving the best possible food. She remarked, “comments are really helpful, I love getting them; students can email me or just stop by and talk.”

When asked about her approach to upper and middle school lunch, she states that “there are usually no differences between the two,” despite what some upper schoolers may complain about. Ms. Sweet finds negative remarks like that “frustrating because some students complain about things being out when they could have just come and told the employees that stuff is out.” Regardless, it is no question that any Bishop’s student is a fanatic about the food they get to eat every day. Neal Mehta (‘21) said, “while all the food at Bishop’s is so good, my absolute favorite is cesar salad”

Since the School’s founding, the cafeteria has been a cornerstone of the school, supporting and serving food and keeping the community of Bishop’s alive and running. And, as a place for students to get early morning snacks, have some fruit, or eat a full, nutritious meal, the cafeteria will always serve students and faculty as much as they can eat, for as long as they wish.