Friday, 8 May 2015

Hack-A-Thon ... Big Hack Attack!

Steve Yee, one of the two sterling vice-principals of Monarch Park Collegiate (the other being Laura Houghton) offered our school to host an app-building event today ... he called it a "Hack-A-Thon".

From our family of schools in the TDSB and others nearby he invited almost 150 students and teachers and administrators who are interested in making our Board and schools operate more effeciently. He thought that, if he brought all that brainpower together, good things might just erupt!

Well, they did.

Creativity requires support, of course, and the Monarch Park Culinary Arts program was asked to feed and water all these brilliant minds.

We had a date, we had a budget, we had customers. Time to GO !!


We have prepared for this event for three days now. Every plate, platter and bowl has been used and used again, and we have some REALLY happy customers!

Three days ago the shopping started.

Two days ago we made 300 tacos and reserved them.

One day ago we made two kinds of chili, pico de gallo, hummus (4 kinds), 500 cookies and prepared dressings for Caesar and Napa salads. We cut up huge amounts of vegetables for dipping, and cleaned the silver. We made (with the kind support of Chef Plummer)
a large amount of creme anglaise to be used as a dip for cookies at lunch. Our refrigerators and freezers were stuffed beyond capacity!

Today the work started at just before 7 AM, with fresh baking of scones and making coffee and other drinks for our clients 8 AM start.

As soon as breakfast went out, we prepared mid-morning snacks and started on the lunch service (see photo of almost-military organization for the day).
There is just no space for any slack time at all!

We were supposed to shoot lunch at noon and were ready for that. At about 11h15 Mr Yee asked if we could have lunch out and ready for his troops at 11h30! Chef negotiated 11h45, and it was double-down immediately on everything. The volume rose in the kitchen, the bustle increased and orders were rapped out to ensure that everything was in place.

At exactly 11h45 the clients walked in to a room fully ready for them and a delicious lunch banquet laid out for them to enjoy!

We offered home made chilis (carnivore and vegetarian), home-baked tacos, Caesar and napa salads, pico de gallo salsa, vegetables galore, hummuses in four styles, cookies straight from our ovens and creme anglaise dip, along with continually rotating coffee, tea and tisane or cold drinks (iced tea and a strange pinkish liquid known in our kitchen as 'red stuff'). All this was very professionally served by the entire brigade in full uniform.

The clean up took less than 2 hours and the kitchen is spotless. I cannot thank my hard-working brigade enough!

And somewhere in all this all the cooks participated in a springtime ritual with Chef: The first time anyone sees the ice-cream truck at school, the students immediately text Chef, and he comes out and buys everyone (including himself) a treat, just because. Because it is spring, because we have worked VERY hard, because it is a joyful thing to do. The students who see the truck text to everyone else in the class, and just about everyone showed up for the treat and time to just relax in the lovely sunshine for 15 minutes. Then it was back to work, refreshed.

The kitchen is spotless, the work is done and I am very proud of my students (again). Well done, all!

Have a lovely week-end ... you deserve it.


Short post-script that Chef found out about: Many of his students are very enterprising! Chef asked three cooks to go to the library (where the event was taking place) and bring back the leftovers of the scones and tea and coffee service. This was at about 1:45 in the afternoon.

Well, away the kids went and it seemed to take quite a while to get back to the kitchen with one trolley and some leftovers. Chef wondered what on earth had happened?

Capitalist Enterprise! The students had made sure they were in full uniform and took the trolley around the school SELLING the leftovers to unsuspecting occassional teachers (substitute teachers) (we had quite a few in today), telling them that this is part of how Monarch Park Collegiate operates, and the scones are 50 cents and the drinks are the same. "Thank you for supporting Monarch Park Culinary Arts". "No, we don't give change."

They came back with a hard-earned $12.00, and reported some impresseed and delighted substitute teachers who want to come back to Monarch Park far more than they'd ever thought.

The students got to keep the money. You earn it ... you make it ... it is yours. Good on ya!

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