The Time I Was School Chef

Back when I was in high school, the senior class each year would cook hot lunches every Friday to raise money for the senior trip. I went to a tiny school with just 150 students from K – 12, and my class only had 11 people in it. The K – 11 students relied on the seniors to actually have a lunch prepared those days, and they were stuck eating whatever we came up with.

When it finally came to our turn running the kitchen, we realized that none of us had any idea what we were doing, but we’d better make something cheap or we were going to end up with a crappy senior trip (which we did anyhow, but that’s a story for another day).

We decided the cheapest thing we could think of was spaghetti.

Now, I’m a big fan of spaghetti. It is cheap, but it can also be a very tasty meal. I practically live on chicken and spaghetti to this day.

At the time, however, none of us really had much kitchen experience, and we were cooking for 140 kids. So we grabbed a huge kettle, filled it with cold water, and dumped ALL 40 pounds of spaghetti in.

As it turns out, putting the spaghetti in the water when it’s cold isn’t the best approach, nor is cooking 40 pounds of spaghetti at once in the same pot.

After about 30 minutes, it finally boiled, and we discovered that it had congealed into a chunk of slimy, scorched starch. Yum. There wasn’t time to start over, and we didn’t have any more spaghetti anyhow, so we decided to go ahead and serve it. And charge for it!

We sliced chunks of the slimy burnt spaghetti and put it on paper plates, then drowned it in meat sauce (which we also made, which did not taste good). Later that day, we had about 140 upset stomachs, but we lined out pockets with their cash, and that was really the point.

That was the day I learned that quality only matters with capitalism. When you have a captive audience, anything goes.

Our senior class lived in infamy after that day, and we were informed that spaghetti was no longer an option for our hot lunches. That was ok, because we planned to serve lukewarm tacos at the next lunch. Ah, high school.