Student chefs help out at school

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Two Custer High School students got the chance to work side-by-side with a chef, serving up a meal to their fellow students.

Dozens of students lined up on Feb. 26 to try chicken lo mein being created by Bethany Coleman and Jesse Mills at the chef demo station in the school cafeteria under the guidance of chef Justin with Lunchtime Solutions. The noodle dish was served directly to the students’ plates, complete with celery, carrots, red cabbage and green onion sautéed in soy sauce.

“Professional cooking is a lucrative trade skill in high demand just like being a mechanic, a plumber, or a welder. It’s great being able to introduce a few skills to these smart young people and show them the professional opportunities that are open to them in the world of culinary arts,” said Justin Olson, a food service director for Lunchtime Solutions, Inc., the K-12 food service management company that has operated Custer School District’s food service program for nearly 20 years.

Events like these chef demos are valued by students and staff alike, bringing a little excitement into the school day, said Tammie Adam, food service director for Custer schools. Preparing fresh entrees for students through chef demonstrations in the lunchroom is a regular part of Lunchtime Solutions’ food service program.

Chef-prepared entrees provide more healthy, fresh-made lunch choices for students, giving them an opportunity to try foods that they may not have tried before and exposing them to flavors and tastes not normally a part of school food service.

“Our program centers on getting kids excited about eating lunch at school,” Adam said. “We think it’s important to provide a wide variety of menu options and make sure students have unlimited access to fresh fruits and vegetables every day.”