Working in ECEC

Rory Magill

Rory Magill: Cook, Andrew Fleck Child Care Centre (downtown program), Ottawa, Ontario

Lunch at the Andrew Fleck Child Care Centre can feature anything from an Ethiopian feast of chicken stew (doro wat) with flat sourdough bread (injera), to a simpler macaroni and cheese.

The centre’s cook, Rory Magill, likes to keep the food interesting and nutritious. A self-taught cook and musician who trained as a city planner, Magill first entered a child care centre kitchen in Toronto 20 years ago when he was substitute teaching. “One day the cook was gone and I went in the kitchen to make lunch and I really enjoyed it.”

After substituting for cooks for a year, Magill got a full-time job at the workplace child care centre at Ontario Hydro. When he moved to Ottawa with his family, he went to work for Andrew Fleck.

Magill plans the menus, prepares the meals, monitors and addresses food allergies (he recently cut out eggs from the kitchen because one of the children is allergic), and orders all of the centre’s food and related supplies and equipment.

The centre offers children a full breakfast, a hot lunch and an afternoon snack. “We have lots of low income families and some kids get their only breakfast here,” he says.

Like his music (Magill is a drummer), his dishes are improvised. Magill’s aim is to help the children develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. He says most of the children at the centre are open to eating a variety of things.

“I really love cooking and enjoy the work a lot. There’s a rare day I that I would come in and not like what I’m doing.” There is one exception, though: “The low point of the day is after lunch when I spend a lot of time over the dish sink.”