Cooking school

By Jean Park

Biology teacher Walt Werner’s eighth period class was looking forward to winter break. The past couple weeks had been a whirlwind stretch looking at ecology, evolution, and the food chain. Before they left school, however, the students had to complete one more mandatory assignment in the last period before two weeks of freedom.

Werner had asked students to bring flour, eggs, milk, butter, chocolate, jams and anything else needed to make their favorite crêpes. Once the period began, Werner hurried to assemble the circular hot plate and explain the internal dynamics of the cooking process.


Students eagerly lined up behind the two hot plates and watched as the mix darkened. Different flavored jams, cans of whipped cream, and jars of Nutella shared the lab bench with cups of sliced fruits for the students to pour into their hot crêpes.

“It was a really fun day. I was pretty sad it wasn’t a double period because I’m sure everyone could have continued eating crêpes for another 45 minutes,” Esther Lee ’11 said. “But it wasn’t a completely bio-free class because he used biology terms to explain how the crêpes were being made.”

“[Crêpes] have simple ingredients, are out of the ordinary, can be prepared on electric frying pans, and can be produced in very short time,” Werner said. “They also involve proteins which can be denatured with high temperature, which alters their normal shape. Proteins are an important topic in bio classes, so it is an opportunity to combine the kitchen with the classroom.”

English teacher Jeremy Michaelson also loves to cook for his students.

“Before winter break, Mr. Michaelson made grilled cheeses for the class,” Errol Bilgin ’11 said. “He had everyone bring in the food, like I would bring the cheese and someone else would bring the bread or butter. I heard that he made pancakes as well for his morning classes, but I know that grilled cheeses are his thing.”

Michaelson began making grilled cheese sandwiches four or five years ago when his students were trying to figure out what they wanted to do the day before winter break. A student suggested making his own special grilled cheese sandwiches, which were a “huge hit” that year. The student passed on the recipe to Michaelson, who now continues the culinary tradition.

“I don’t wait for special occasions,” Michaelson said. “The special occasions I cook for are breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s something I’ve always liked to do, even as a young kid.”

Banana bread, cookies, brownies, biscotti, pies and quiches are just a few of the treats drama teacher Christopher Moore likes to bake simply because of the “wonderful smells that fill my house when I cook and bake for others.”

Moore shares his baked creations with his colleagues in the drama offices, the students and families who attend Scene Night presentations and students in the Summer Intensive Acting Workshop, which he runs with Cinema Studies teacher Ted Walch. Sometimes, Moore drops off baked goods in the Faculty Lounge for teachers and staff.

“The funny thing is I don’t eat sweets, cakes or the like … [but] I have been cooking and baking all my life,” Moore said. “Everything I cook is not just for sustenance, but for fun. I always try new recipes.”

Coming from a family of cooks, history teacher Katherine Holmes-Chuba has baked brownies for her students and the rest of the History Department for several years. She cooks as a means of relaxation and chooses to make brownies because of their simplicity and her love for chocolate.

Although she considers herself more of a cook than a baker, her students like to think that her baked treats “are the best [homemade] brownies in the world,” Jill Wilson ’12 said.

When asked if any teachers would come up with a name for their own specialty dishes, Michaelson responded, “Gosh, I don’t know. I think I’ll let others handle that. What kind of dork names his own sandwich?”