students cooking at marshall high school

Chef visit provides hands-on learning experiences at MPS

It takes a lot of ingredients to make lunch for all the students at Marshall High School.

On Wednesday morning, chef Tony Menk had about 25 pounds of tomatoes to chop, as well as cilantro, meat, and servings of tortilla chips to prepare for the next day’s meal. Fortunately, he had help from groups of MHS students.

“You guys are really making a dent in that cilantro,” Menk told a crew of students.

Across the prep table from where Menk was chopping tomatoes, students Aidan Reinhart, Anthony Meza, Owen Renslow and JR Vierstraete were removing the stems from a big bag of cilantro sprigs.

“That’s not always a job everyone wants. It can get a little monotonous,” Menk said.

But the boys said they didn’t mind getting a chance to work in the kitchen.

“It’s nice, because you get out of class,” Reinhart said.

“You get to try new things,” said Xander Oey.

Oey was taking bags’ worth of chips and weighing them out into individual serving sizes.

The hands-on experience was part of Menk’s visit to Marshall Public Schools this week. Menk is a regional chef with Taher food service.

Menk said he travels to different school districts every week.

“I love it. The kids are fun because they have energy.”

Shelly Cunningham, food service director at Marshall Public Schools, said it was exciting to have a chef visit and interact with Marshall students.

“I was thrilled to get him to go to the elementary school,” Cunningham said. “It was so fun to see how the kids reacted.”

Earlier this week, kids at Park Side Elementary got to snack on fresh fruit during Menk’s visit. And on Wednesday, he was preparing a nacho bar for the high school students. The nachos, with fixings like fresh pico de gallo, pork carnitas and chipotle chicken, would be ready for lunch today.

Menk said he anticipated they would need about 400 servings of nachos. That’s why it was helpful to work with students from MHS Family and Consumer Science classes to get ingredients ready.

It was also a learning opportunity.

“I try to encourage students to ask questions about what we’re cooking,” he said.

Hopefully, some students would be interested in becoming chefs themselves, Menk said.

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