The North Bend Eagle

 


Former and current members of the NBC kitchen staff gathered for a festive brunch. Joining in were Fran Spiker, Heidi Widick, Amanda Vyhlidal, Renee Rasmussen and Connie Watts; (back) Marge Shaw, Deb Kavan, Arlo Winkelman, Vicki Foltz and Jan Eaton. Combined, the group has 170.5 years of experience in the school kitchen. Most are now retired or at other jobs.

Lunch ladies continue camaraderie

by Elsa Rasmussen
Published 12/20/23

On Dec. 9, 10 past and present members of the North Bend Central kitchen staff met at the home of Renee Rasmussen for one of their annual gatherings. They enjoyed a potluck style brunch and spent several hours catching up and commiserating about their time as “lunch ladies.”

According to Deb Kavan, their parties have been a tradition for at least 20 years. Connie Watts began the gathering when she was the manager of the high school kitchen. They would have an annual Christmas party with a white elephant gift exchange and eat out at a restaurant so that someone else would cook for the evening. They drew names to get each other presents. Kavan continued the yearly traditions during her time as high school manager. Both have since retired from the kitchen.

Kavan did her best to keep the kitchen consistent after she took over from Watts, but she did add a few meals. According to Kavan, Watts was such a great manager that there wasn’t much to change. Kavan did get a nice new office, though, instead of being crammed in the back of the kitchen. Watts and Kavan stayed close after the transition, and Watts often acted as her sounding board.

Another original member of Watts’s team, Marge Shaw, was always known for her baking skills. She was put in charge of the homemade baked goods like buttercrust, rolls, runzas and pizza. Over time, the kitchen team developed high quality recipes unique to the school that also followed state guidelines. Watts kept track of all their recipes, and Shaw taught everyone how to make them taste better by adding just a little bit extra of “the good stuff.” Through this practice, the kitchen staff had a long tradition of making high quality meals.

“You get paid diddly-squat so you make the most of it,” Rasmussen said. “We didn’t need to get paid a lot to put a lot of pride into our job.”

The most important part of the job was feeding the kids. That was what really made the job worthwhile.

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