At Pinewood, we are accustomed to the mad rush to receive our lunch first. Everyone lines up in a less than orderly fashion, some students cutting to the front of the line, leaving us wondering how so many people can possibly have a meeting with a teacher. It is time for Pinewood to meet the man behind the delicious food which students are so eager to eat everyday at lunch.
Son of Nicaraguan parents, Epicurean chef Rafael De Trinidad grew up in San Francisco as one of twelve children. He graduated from City College of San Francisco and later went on to earn culinary degrees from the Culinary Institute of America, Saint Helena, and California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
Before working at Pinewood, De Trinidad worked for Compass Group North America, which is the world’s largest foodservice company, with locations all over the U.S. and around the world.
Although De Trinidad is now the executive chef at Pinewood, he has 40 years of work in the foodservice business. During this time he has won many awards and chances to cook for world leaders and CEOs of major corporations. Among the famous people he has cooked for, De Trinidad names U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. People lucky enough to experience De Trinidad’s cooking expertise are not limited to the U.S., however. De Trinidad has also cooked for the president of Costa Rica, Chinese dignitaries, and the German chancellor. Rafael De Trinidad is still a sought after chef for celebrities around the world.
Despite the busy schedule of a master chef, De
Trinidad also finds time to give back to his community. He donates all of the food that Pinewood does not eat to shelters in his hometown of San Francisco, including Sisters of Mercy and La Casa de las Madres.
“I’m motivated to donate to just about anyone who is hungry, because of the gratitude that I have in my life for the many blessings I have received,” De Trinidad said.
Senior Sarah Reece spent two semesters working in the Pinewood kitchen with De Trinidad, helping him prepare the meals for the students.
“He’s such a kind, respectable person who genuinely loves what he does and the students. He works so hard every day to feed us,” Reece said.
Reece also loves the fun aspect of the work like cracking jokes, telling stories, and bonding in the kitchens.
When he isn’t cooking for celebrities or Pinewood students, De Trinidad engages in his many hobbies. He likes traveling, going to concerts, visiting museums, teaching cooking classes, mentoring others, and spending time with his his family and friends, especially his three children.
Pinewood is lucky to have such a talented chef cooking its lunch, but even more fortunate to have such a great man as part of the Pinewood community.