FDR’s Culinary Club!


Abdullah Hashimi, Editor

FDR has countless numbers of clubs and activities for its students. Clubs and afterschool activities are a vital part of the high school experience. The New Dealer was lucky enough to interview Ms. Zuckerberg, a teacher here at FDR and creator of the school’s very own Culinary Club. This new club has caught the attention of The New Dealer and has piqued the interest of many teachers and students at FDR. We were able to discuss this new club, and its quick rise to fame with Ms. Zuckerberg. 

The New Dealer: Why did you create the Culinary Club? What made you make the club this year?

Ms. Zuckerberg: So, I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but I felt that this year even more so than others, was a super important one to create a club like this. Due to COVID a lot of things were shut down. I think after COVID, a lot of people realized they were home for a long time, and they gained a lot of weight- and were sitting down and not cooking for themselves. I think cooking together gives students time to share, bond, and work together. As we all know, food has the power to heal, bring family and friends together, and kind of heal our mental health. They say for a lot of people with mental health problems, cooking is a good therapy. Over the last few years, due to COVID and having to keep our distance from others, I felt that having a club like the Culinary Club helps kids socialize. They gain those skills back by having to mingle, meet people, and try different foods. The biggest reason for the club, however, from what I witnessed teaching over the last four years, is that a lot of our demographics are in single-parent households. They’re taking care of their younger siblings a lot of the time, and they’re cooking for their younger siblings- really just doing microwaveable meals.

The New Dealer: Yes definitely. Our school is a Title I school, which means that students in low-income families make up at least 40 percent of enrollment. That also means many students in our school are living in poverty.

Ms. Zuckerberg: Yes, I’ve seen kids in foster care, public housing, and single-family houses. These kids are pretty much having to step up and be another parent. So, I think learning quick, easy recipes that they can make on a day-to-day basis that are healthy, would be a good skill. Also considering a lot of our students are going off to college, and they don’t know how to cook. It’s a really great skill to have. I know my father’s mother died when he was very young, at 14 years old. Without the opportunity for home-ed classes and all of these different programs at school, he would have never learned how to take care of himself. The big drive for me is to really open this up. Before I started teaching, my degree was in Hospitality Administration. It’s a passion of mine that I want to be able to share, as well as teach to our kids.

The New Dealer: All right, thank you. And next question. This is more about the content of the club. What exactly do students do in the Culinary Club? Is it just cooking meals?

Ms. Zuckerberg: In the Culinary Club, we start off with learning about cleanliness. Getting in the kitchen, going, and washing your hands, making sure you’re not wearing shirts & jewelry that are dangling in the food, and all of the stuff that a real kitchen learns how to do. You make sure you tie your hair back, no hair in the face. Just taking those steps of initial kitchen etiquette. We teach students all the different equipment that they’re going to be using. Each time we get in the kitchen, we learn one to two recipes. They learn how to cut with a knife for specific recipes. They learn what each ingredient is, and they learn the steps to make the recipe. I also provide them with the recipe, so they can take them home and utilize them at home. It’s kind of like their own cookbook. They cook, they taste, and they say what we could add or change about the recipe. Also, we’re learning how to take a recipe and make it for a larger amount of people, which is super important.

The New Dealer: That all sounds very useful, and helpful for students to learn. Moving on, this is one of the clubs this year which has the most students. Why do you think so many people decide to join the club this year?

Ms. Zuckerberg: Well, aside from eating for free, as everyone loves to eat. I really feel that this is a skill that really everyone wants to learn, and they never had the opportunity to learn before. A lot of people cook and bake as a hobby, but I really want the students to know that there are many different routes of what you can do after high school, rather than just the basic route of going to college.

The New Dealer: That’s amazing, especially since we don’t have those, like you said, vocational programs in the school, like shop or cooking and things like that. So, you brought this club forward, which gives them that experience that is going to be used not just during high school, but beyond it as well.

Ms. Zuckerberg: Yeah, a lot of our population of students, they come from immigrant families, and they either think it’s college or no college. They don’t realize that they can go to college for many different things, they can go to culinary school, or they can go to school to be a hairdresser. There are so many opportunities to go to college in different ways, that aren’t necessarily the traditional route.

The New Dealer: Definitely, it’s not an opportunity advertised to them. This is why this club is so amazing and students want to join. My next question is can students still join the club? I’ve heard there are a lot of students in this club, and was wondering how could a student join the club and if they still can?

Ms. Zuckerberg: We decided to separate into fall and spring terms altogether. If everyone shows up every week, we have about 37 to 40 people for each term, and I am still taking people. What I’m currently doing is taking a lot of the people who either weren’t able to stay in, due to another club or are seniors and giving them the first opportunity since they’re not going to have it next year. Then, I’m having more people join for the spring term. I’m hoping to at some point be able to incorporate freshmen, but right now we are not able to. However, they could email me with their OSIS number, first and last name, and email, and I will get them on the Google Classroom to stay up to date. 

The New Dealer: That’s great. And here’s a question for you. What’s your favorite part about this club?

Ms. Zuckerberg: My favorite part about this club is taking my hobby and passion for both teaching and the culinary field and seeing it come together. Also, I love seeing how excited the kids really do get. It really does make me so happy to see them try the recipe, do it from beginning to end, and see the outcome and taste it. They really just are so excited to be there. It really feels good to me. It doesn’t feel like I’m working.

The New Dealer: All right, and lastly, for the future club, what do you see in store? In future years or maybe just into the next semester, what do you see in store for the club?

Ms. Zuckerberg: I’m really, really hoping that we’re able to turn this club into an elective course here at this school. Just like ceramics, art, or theater and music. I’m hoping to make it an opportunity for them to take as an elective course, and really build, do trips, and get chefs in here. I have a lot of connections in the hospitality industry with a lot of chefs, and they can come in here and kind of tell their story, where they started, and how they worked their way up to where they are today. I’m hoping for future years that we can have it as a full-on elective course and not just a club

The New Dealer: Yeah, that sounds great. Kids have that choice from the beginning of their freshman year to their senior year. They’ll have that actually taught to them in school. For those who can’t do an extracurricular, or those who just want to take the class, because that’s what they want to do in the future.

Ms. Zuckerberg: Yes. I think a big thing about clubs for some families is that they don’t realize how much enrichment clubs do. A lot of times they’re like, no, you need to go home so you can do your homework. They don’t realize how many opportunities they give kids. I’m hoping to also include maybe a week of resume writing for the kids, so they can learn how to write a resume and certain specific skills that they need in everyday life. Making a signature, writing a check, all of these things that they don’t know how to do. I have seniors now, and they don’t know how to do it. I’m hoping to really just meet all the criteria of the different skills that they can learn.

The New Dealer: That’s great, having this club is an amazing resource. Thank you for your time, this club seems to have a promising future.

Again, thank you to Ms. Zuckerberg for joining us for this interview. The Culinary Club is a great new club here at FDR. We urge interested students to look into.

Ms. Zuckerberg’s email – [email protected]