Perfect Recipe | Senior friends advance their culinary skills in Tiger Cafe

Senior Alexa McNally and Caeley Reade cook ground beef for a spaghetti bake they are making for the Tiger Cafe in their Foods class.

Seniors Alexa McNally and Caeley Reade not only tag team just about every aspect of their daily lives, but they also take on new challenges together in the kitchen as a part of Tiger Cafe. Both girls have taken every FCS class in junior high and have now taken all three Foods courses the high school has to offer. Not just doing it for a credit, McNally said cooking is a skill she’s always had fun pursuing. “I took food classes because it was fun and easy and cooking is a skill everyone should eventually learn for the future,” McNally said.

In their third and final Foods course, McNally and Reade are a part of the Tiger Cafe. Foods instructor Madison Walker said Tiger Cafe serves meals to the CFHS staff. 

“We are on a rotation, so we serve a hot teacher lunch one week and on opposite weeks we make Take n’ Bake casseroles that teachers can pick up at the end of the week and bake at home for dinner,” Walker said.

Walker said Reade is new to her class, but that didn’t stop her from jumping right in. 

“Her bubbly personality always brings fun to the class period. Caeley is always a helping hand and is willing to go the extra mile,” Walker said.

McNally has taken two Foods classes, and Walker said she enjoyed having her in class both times. “Each day Alexa comes to class, works hard and is willing to try new things. While Alexa is working hard to put her best foot forward, she always has a smile on her face,” Walker said.

Both McNally and Reade agree that this class has helped prepare them for life outside of high school. “I have learned a little bit about everything dealing with preparing and baking different types of food,” Reade said. “I have learned how to use different types of utensils and cooking techniques when making different dishes, and I am sure that I carry those skills with me in the future.”

Taking their skills learned in class home, the friends said they both prepare meals for their families. “I have to make dinner for my siblings a lot, and the experience I’ve had from this class has made me a better cook,” McNally said. Reade also said she plays chef for the night sometimes when her parents aren’t around. “I make meals for my family sometimes when my parents get home later, and I am able to prepare meals because I have learned skills from these Foods classes,” Reade said.

Reade said she first took the Foods classes out of enjoyment, but the benefits of learning culinary skills are now starting to pay off in her personal life. “I took food classes during junior high and high school because I enjoy baking and learning new ways to bake things,” Reade said. “By taking these classes they have become very handy when baking at my house, and for my family and I am sure I will take the skills I have learned in these classes with me to college.”

Focusing on the here and now, McNally and Reade enjoy the immediate perks of participating in Tiger Cafe. Last week the girls got to try out the meal they served the staff and agreed it was some of their best work. For that meal, they made chicken quesadillas, Mexican rice, chips and salsa, and churros. This week Tiger Cafe is making million dollar spaghetti with chocolate chip cookies for Take n’ Bake.

Being in the same fourth hour Foods III class, McNally said cooking together makes the class a lot more fun. “We are in the same group and being with your friends definitely makes the experience so much fun,” McNally said. 

Reade said each new week comes with it’s own unique challenges that make for a lot of fun together. “We each have a job with our team that changes each week when we get a new meal to prepare,” Reade said.

Reade said spending time with her friends has definitely been a huge motivator for her in taking these Foods classes. “A lot of my friends joined food classes with me, and it helped inspire me to join them,” Reade said. McNally agreed and said that her friends make for a positive classroom culture. “Being able to cook with your friends in classes has inspired my love for cooking today,” McNally said. 

Adding on to that, Reade said not only did her friends inspire her to take the class but so did the Foods teachers she had each year because “they were always welcoming and wanted students to join their class.”

Joining Foods III was a no-brainer for McNally after receiving a little encouragement from Walker. “Mrs. Walker talked about what Foods III was like and it sounded like so much fun. I thought the Tiger Cafe was a great idea, and I was excited to join,” McNally said.

Enjoying how unique the class is compared to the rest of her schedule, Reade said the class provides new opportunities for students each day. “My favorite part of the Tiger Cafe is getting the opportunity to create meals for our teachers and staff in the building,” Reade said. “I think that it is really cool that we as the students get to create and plan meals to prepare for the staff in the building.”

McNally said she enjoys having more of a say in what the class cooks each week. “We get to pick what we make for everyone every week,” McNally said. “I also like how this class is different from the others, and we get to make the product and actually sell it to other people.”

Both girls recommend the class as an elective to students looking to try something different as they plan their schedules. “Food classes are always so fun, and it’s a good elective to take if you need a class that doesn’t cause much stress and you just want to have fun,” McNally said.

Reade also encourages students to find time for Foods in their schedule so that they can enjoy the same atmosphere she loves to be a part of in class. “I would highly recommend this class to others because it is a great experience and you can learn many skills that you can carry with you in the future. It is also just a great environment that I enjoy being in every day,” Reade said.

Although some may not understand why cooking is considered a form of art, McNally and Reade said it allows for creative expression just like music, drawing and any other form of art. “Cooking is an art because you can play around with flavors and colors that make the food taste however you want,” McNally said. 

Reade said much like a painter has the freedom to work with different colors and consistencies, chefs can play around with their cuisines to create the perfect masterpiece. 

“When cooking you are able to have some freedom by adding different flavors and spices while making recipes and also by garnishing dishes we are able to be creative and show the creative side of us,” Reade said.

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