‘School Days, Lunch Trays & Gourmets’ Star NH School Cafeteria Workers

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Frank Edelblut, the commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, and Exeter High School Chef Brad Rice prepare butternut squash vegan lasagna. (Courtesy Photo)

“School Days, Lunch Trays & Gourmets” Modeled after Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”

EXETER, NH – Students and cafeteria staff at Exeter High School are starring alongside Frank Edelblut, the commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, in the first installment of “School Days, Lunch Trays & Gourmets.”

Modeled after Guy Fieri and the Food Network program, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” Commissioner Edelblut launched a video series to profile some of the state’s cafeterias — giving viewers an inside look at all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make school lunch happen. In each video, beginning with Exeter High School, Edelblut discusses and prepares food with staff, serving students and then later joining them for a quick bite.

“When the Commissioner reached out to us for this project, we were thrilled to be included and excited that Exeter High School was the first to be featured in this series,” Superintendent David Ryan said. “This was a great opportunity for us to showcase the talented culinary team that meets our students’ dietary needs on a daily basis using fresh, local and even homegrown ingredients to serve a wide range of excellent meal choices.”

Commissioner Edelblut visited Exeter High School on March 21, donning a pink “Live Free and Healthy” SAU 16 meal program shirt and blue apron while he got to work. Meal preparation began at 7 a.m., in order to be ready for the first lunch period at 11:10 a.m.

Throughout the video, Exeter High School cafeteria staff — including Unit Manager Louise Sucu, Chef Brad Rice, Chef Michele Simiele, Hope McDonald, Annette Flanders and Jana Toomey — guided Edelblut through the meal prep process. This included letting him take the lead on making a pan of butternut squash vegan lasagna and pulling homemade pizzas out of the oven before slicing them for individual serving sizes.

At the sound of the lunch bell, Edelblut transitioned to the service line, where he helped hand out chicken sandwiches and pizza. To complete the cafeteria experience, the Commissioner learned the art behind washing trays, and then stopped by one of the lunch tables to chat with students.

Before saying goodbye to the Exeter High School cafeteria crew, Edelblut grabbed a tray and a piece of the lasagna he helped make, which he enjoyed with Chef Rice.

“This was a really fun project to work on and it was my honor to work alongside such committed individuals who work hard in our schools to brighten students’ days,” Edelblut said. “My hope is that this video – and others that may follow – will help portray the broad level of support that communities are providing for their students.”

In the second video of the series, which is now in production, Edelblut visited Marlborough School.

Watch the video linked here on YouTube.com.

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