Staff Cafeteria Serves New Decor and Culinary Cuisine

The aroma of soup and fresh coffee welcomes you into the room as teachers ease into the new furniture while laughing and chatting with each other. The room doesn’t only erupt with chatter from teachers, but also with conversation from the culinary class. The student chefs move rapidly and purposely behind the counter to sell food made by the culinary class as teachers select and pay for their items.  This room is known as the staff cafeteria. 

When Francis Lewis prepared to return to full time in-person learning last school year, Principal Dr. Marmor was notified that the previous staff cafeteria was no longer running. As a result, he decided to partner up with the culinary class to renovate a new cafeteria for this school year.  

“While we were preparing to return from the pandemic, I was notified that the Office of School Food no longer sold food to the teachers and the staff,” Dr. Marmor said. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to utilize that space and renovate it and use it productively.”

“We came up with an idea that we would renovate it into a more modern cafeteria staff lounge, but we would run it with a partnership with our culinary program and our IRS work study department.”

The process of food development begins with experienced culinary students preparing the food, while the other students develop recipe ideas. The entire process starts and finishes with FLHS students. 

“The process starts obviously in the kitchen,” Chef Neil said. “It starts with our culinary students that worked within the class for a year, already preparing the food. Then we create the menu based on the students’ ideas.  Eventually, the ideas convert into recipes that would be brought into the cafeteria.” 

“The profits get funded back into the culinary program,” Chef Neil added. “Anything made from the teacher’s cafeteria goes straight back into the culinary program. This includes buying equipment, buying foods, and any other aspects of the kitchen where the kids need to work with different ingredients every day.”

Faculty has been frequenting the renovated cafeteria consistently this school year and have enjoyed the new cuisine and accommodations.

“I love it,” English teacher Ms. Cerimi said. “It’s a very positive experience and it’s where I go to enjoy my lunch. The teacher’s cafeteria feels very professional. It has great food, great service from the students and a great atmosphere. I like that feeling, it’s nice to have that in the building.”

“So far I think everything is great and perfect the way it is, and it’s nice seeing students that I have working here,” Ms. Cerimi added. “Like today, a student I have in my freshman class gave me my coffee. It’s a nice way to see students interact with people that aren’t in a student setting.”

English teacher Ms. Prout believes that the teachers cafe is “a good place to get food and do some work”. 

“I come down here everyday and it’s just a good place to get some food and do some work,” English teacher Ms. Prout said. “The food that the students are making is really good, so I would say the food has improved a lot.”

Not only does the new cafeteria support teachers with fresh food and relaxation, it also provides valuable practice and experience for culinary students.

“I think the culinary arts program in FLHS provides a life skill,” Chef Neil said. “A skill that they probably wouldn’t learn from any other high school. It’s something that they can carry along with them in the future. Not only do we provide skills that are used in the classroom, but we teach them life skills in the classroom and beyond.”

Chef Neil also discussed new projects the program would like to develop in the future.

“Actually we’re planning to incorporate more ethnic and cultural food into our menu,” Chef Neil added. “We will be investing time into creating different menus. We look forward to having weekly cultural foods, like maybe one week we have Chinese lunch or Filipino lunch or Indian lunch or Greek lunch and just create authentic dishes and recipes from different countries.”

Additionally, Dr. Marmor discussed a new delivery option that will be available for faculty in the future.

“Eventually we will be doing office delivery,” Dr. Marmor said.  “We will be able to take orders and be able to deliver to different parts of the building. Of course not the classrooms, but office spaces. We will be doing internal delivery.”