Take&Bake: easing the stress of teacher’s lives one meal at a time

By Sarah Skordas

It was a crazy Thursday (as most Thursdays tend to go) and I was roaming around, pass in one hand, phone in the other, scoring the halls for an administrator on hall duty. Coming across Assistant Principal Mrs. Cooper, I asked if she had a few minutes to spare.

“Not really,” Cooper exclaimed, but she motioned for me to follow along and talk to her as we walked. I was working on a new story, one centered on Arundel’s culinary community and a project called Take&Bake. Making our way down F-hall stairs to the basement, Cooper was quick to express her enthusiasm on the topic, having picked up several Take&Bake meals herself. “The ziti… loved that,” she commented.

To say that teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators are very busy individuals would be an understatement (especially for those at the high school level) . Dedicating their lives to educating youth, which can subsequently lead these individuals to assume a position where they can advise and even inspire their students, is no small sacrifice. The significance of educators and the gratitude that many fail to give them is not lost on the families of these individuals or from the students themselves. It is in this regard that the students of Arundel High School’s culinary classes started the Take&Bake initiative.

The premise, as stated by senior, Karlea Brown, is for the culinary students to make prepared meals that teachers and staff can take home to “make their night easier… it’s one less thing they have to worry about.” The formulation of this idea however, was all thanks to Mrs. Smith, who teaches both Culinary and Hospitality Management and Nutritional Science. Not only does this project serve as a way for students to give back to their teachers–a thank you of sorts for all they do–but it also serves as a fundraiser for the culinary competition that the students participate in towards the end of the year.

This competition, The Maryland ProStart Student Invitational (or MPSI for short), is run by the National  Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and will be held on March 12th at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. The culinary portion of the competition, which a handful of our Arundel students will be participating in, is composed of students from across the state, competing for the chance to win scholarships and an invitation to represent the state of Maryland at the National ProStart Invitational which is held in Washington, D.C. on May 8th through 10th. MPSI thus, is an opportunity for students to demonstrate the skills they have learned from their classes and the ProStart program in an interactive and creative way.

Students must make a three course meal (each course having two identical plates, one for show, and one for taste) in 60 minutes and will be evaluated on the taste of the dishes, the skill and teamwork they exhibit, and the safety and sanitation methods they utilize. The challenge however, lies in the restricted use of resources as each team has no access to running water or electricity, and only has two butane burners at their disposal.

Arundel faculty and staff can rest assured however that their Take&Bake meals were created without these constraints and were thoughtfully selected and made with the consumer’s time and best interests in mind. The menu, which is a compilation of student choices and teacher suggestions, is full of variety. One meal was tacos, another, homemade pasta that Cooper previously raved about. When reminiscing about her pasta making ventures, Karlea Brown said four little words that any teacher would be thrilled to hear strung together: “that was really fun.”

All in all, Take&Bake is a collective and one that all participants respond positively to.