Big-time chef visits Pawnee City schools and cooks up big-time treat

Chef Brian Renz Pawnee City Schools

Norman McHenry gets his picture taken with Brian Renz, a corporate chef with Taher, the company that provides food to the school.


The kids at Pawnee City Schools got a real treat Thursday. Taher, owner of the food account, sent one if its corporate chefs to cook lunch for the kids.

The kids were pretty excited and one even had a selfie of him and Chef Brian Renz made.

They stopped in to visit him as he got there early in the morning. He treated them to Smashed Turkey Burger for lunch. It is a turkey, with bread crumbs and other fixings, smashed into a burger and cooked.

He comes down a couple of times a year for the past four years that Taher has had the account.

When schools sign up with Taher they are asked if they can afford a chef, as many of the larger schools have. To smaller schools they send chefs like Brian to treat the kids to something special, something they wouldn’t ordinarily get.

Taher is based in Minnesota and has accounts in this area across the border into Kansas and in Norris Public Schools in Nebraska. A corporate chef supervises regional chefs. They have 12 regional chefs and our regional chef was to be here instead of Brian but he had unfortunately broke an arm right after he was hired, so Brian came to fill in.

Renz sits on the Chef Council that goes around to different countries each year. Last year he made something from Indonesia and the kids loved it. He often cooks something from Peru or Thailand, for example.

He has been a chef for 35 years. He spent 16 years in retail before spending the last 15 in school food programs. He said he just wanted to always be a chef and went to school to fulfill his dream.

Taher has accounts in 14 states. It is the largest privately held food service company in the country, he said.

“I love them,” he said of the kids,” They come in and talk to me. Norman (McHenry) has been in and had a selfie of me and him made.”

This is his second trip of the year and he usually makes two a year. He was last here in December.