Behind the counter:

Uncovering the secrets of L'Cafe

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Paige Hopkins, Staff Writer

For the average Liberty student, the process of buying lunch at L’Café is fairly simple: get in line, order, pay, get the food, and walk out. What most students don’t know is that countless hours of preparation have gone into ensuring you can get that little bowl of golden mac and cheese in your hands.

It all starts with a recipe.

“It’s just what a student might have an idea about, something they might want to learn how to make, or something they’ve had before,” culinary teacher Zarah Matsuda said. “Other times, with stuff like soups and smoothies, we just take ingredients and we write the recipe as we go.”

For culinary students, the process this year has been especially difficult because they must work around the new food restrictions, meaning every recipe must contain less fat, less salt, lower calories and be a smaller size. For some, this process has been frustrating.

“Three hundred fifty calories doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. It just means low in calories,” senior Keane Wong said.

Once culinary students find a recipe that works, it joins the menu as a “special,” meaning that it’s available for students to order for a limited time.

However, not just anyone can grab a pan and start cooking. The students are all divided into separate stations. A student in the grill station, for example, would make mac and cheese, whereas a smoothie would be made by someone in beverages. Each station is headed by a manager, who ensures that everything runs smoothly.

In the fast-paced lunch atmosphere, organization is important. Oftentimes, Matsuda doesn’t even have a chance to talk to her students before lunch starts, so they are trusted to make sure they don’t fall behind on lunch orders.

“It’s a hard game to play if you’re playing catch-up,” senior Dylan Sherman said.

In order to keep up with the demand of lunch orders, culinary students not only have to work efficiently, but they have to be able to communicate well with others

“There’s lots of shouting,” Wong said. “You kind of have to get people’s attention, so you have to be kind of abrasive with your language.”

After all that—if a recipe is found, added as a special, prepared during the lunch hour rush, and proves popular among the students and staff—it becomes a part of the permanent menu.

“It’s definitely a process,” sophomore Rachel McKee said.