Mrs. Ellis Brings the Kitchen to the Classroom through Culinary Arts

Kiril Hadjipetkov, Staff Writer

One of the most cherished classes WMMHS has to offer is Culinary Arts. Students all over Mendham including myself always look forward to the point of the day in which we get to hone our cooking skills, crafting delicious, healthy platters for everyone to enjoy. This class is run by no other than Mrs. Ellis, whose bright passions for cooking and teaching light up the room. 

 

As I ventured to A-floor and entered the Culinary Arts room, Mrs. Ellis was taking her free time to cook a spice blend for a staff event. “It’s a blend of spices for lots of different stuff. It’s an Ethiopian recipe by New York City chef Marcus Samuelsson who owns lots of restaurants, there’s one particular in Harlem.” Seeing my cooking teacher selflessly craft a unique item of food in her free time only further reinforced my faith in Mendham’s cooking program.

 

To say the least, Mrs. Ellis is an experienced chef. She has been cooking for roughly thirty years. Aside from cooking at home, Mrs. Ellis attended the Culinary Institute of America for two years immediately after highschool. It didn’t stop there. “I did professional chef work for about seven years, then I quit that, got married, had children, and then went into teaching.” From learning to doing to teaching, Mrs. Ellis is what every aspiring chef would want their teacher to be. Furthermore, Mrs. Ellis is extremely passionate about the classes she teaches and realizes the importance of a course like this at a school like Mendham. “I think as far as my students are concerned, it’s a place for them to unwind, integrate with other students from other grades in a safe setting, and also learn essential life skills.” Well said, Mrs. Ellis.

 

Due to the massive amounts of positive feedback from her classes, Culinary Arts is extremely limited to students. I was lucky enough to participate in this course, but I can’t say the same for various others who have actively voiced their disappointment in not being able to join. 

 

However, when I brought this up, Mrs. Ellis came up with a perfect solution to the issue- an extracurricular cooking club. “I would encourage students who either have cooking and want to improve their skills even more to join and also open it up to students who have not had the opportunity to take it. It would probably meet once every two weeks, there would most likely be dues so we could purchase ingredients, and I would probably run it in a seasonal manner, utilizing fresh ingredients that are available.” Essentially, the after-school cooking club would be an extra Culinary Arts, giving students a chance to cook a little more in a learning setting along with giving them some freedom in choosing what to cook! Furthermore, Mrs. Ellis mentioned incorporating the organic school garden in which she has managed for over eleven years. “If I had a cooking club, then that would be a natural progression to combining the stuff we do in the garden with the meals we cook in the club.”

“It would probably meet once every two weeks, there would most likely be dues so we could purchase ingredients, and I would probably run it in a seasonal manner, utilizing fresh ingredients that are available.””

— Mrs. Ellis

 

Mrs. Ellis brought this idea up in the past to the administration, which has been previously rejected due to the already large amount of extracurricular activities that exist. Teachers receive stipends, which are essentially how they get paid for extracurricular activities, and funding for additional clubs is limited. While this is sad news, it doesn’t mean that the cooking club cannot exist. Realistically, with if students paid for their own ingredients and expressed a motivation to form this group, we could most likely see this becoming a thing in the near-future. As a senior who is about to graduate very soon, I ask those of you who are younger to consider this, and potentially make it a reality. If you are interested in the idea of a cooking club, make your voice heard!