By EMILIE NELSON
Messenger staff writer
Students at Fort Dodge Senior High were given the opportunity to try an unusual dish for school lunch Wednesday afternoon.
Among the traditional selections of cheese pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, was an Asian creation with a little American flare cooked by a visiting chef from Taher Inc., the school district’s contracted food service company.
Corporate Chef Brian Renz, of Minneapolis, visited the Senior High kitchen where he created Korean cuisine with pork, kimchi and red sticky rice served together in a soft tortilla shell during a “chef on display” day in the serving line.
“We call it the California Korean Taco,” said Renz, who was visiting FDSH for the first time. “It’s made of Korean ingredients, but of course they don’t really have tacos in Korea. We added the tortillas to put everything together and make it more like a taco. Kids really like it.”
The sweet and spicy dish was topped with the kimchi, which is made of bok choy, a cabbage-like leafy green vegetable also new to the students.
“Kimchi is kind of an Asian coleslaw,” said Renz.
Renz said Korean dishes were the cuisine of choice for 2011-2012 by the Chef Council, a group of chefs employed by Taher Inc. who work together and travel the world learning new and different ways of cooking while being introduced to new dishes which they, in turn, can create for the schools and corporations they serve.
“Our Chef Council spent time visiting Korea this past year,” said Renz. “We take classes and learn to make their cuisine and come back and try to emulate that as closely as we can.”
At FDSH, students who opted to try Renz’s special for their lunch said it was a good choice.
“It’s pretty good, maybe a little messy to eat, but definitely good,” said senior Logan Fritz.
Senior Lindsey McDonald said she tries new foods anytime the chef’s concepts dishes are offered by the district’s chef, Nick Sells.
“This one’s very good,” said McDonald.
While most students enjoyed the dish just as it was served, others tried it their own way.
“It’s delicious,” said senior Kimmesha Roberts. “Especially with a little ranch dressing.”
Renz was at FDSH for a site visit, which he tries to do annually at the 53 schools in his territory. He was impressed with the state-of-the-art kitchen facility at FDSH, which was remodeled in 2009.
“This is very nice,” he said. “We do a lot of school food service, and several schools have a variety of stations with different foods, but they don’t always have the equipment to make it work like they do here.”
Brenda Janssen, food service director for the Fort Dodge Community Schools, said the district is fortunate to have a modern kitchen at FDSH and an in-house chef.
“Taher is a chef-based company,” Janssen said, “but not all of their schools are fortunate to have a chef like we do.”
Contact Emilie Nelson at (515)573-2141 or emilie @messengernews.net
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