Evanston Township High School, a four-year public high school situated near Lake Michigan in the northern suburbs of Chicago, has a student enrollment of over 3,500 and 270 staff members. Kim Minestra, the school’s director of nutrition services, oversees a staff of 26 that prepares and serves more than 3,000 meals daily to students and staff. The kitchen also provides catered meals for special events like board meeting dinners, athletic banquets and awards ceremonies.
The menus reflect Evanston’s diverse population – vegetarian, Indian, Italian, Mexican/Hispanic, Asian – and the school’s kitchen focuses on producing delicious, high-volume items like pasta, sauces, rice, vegetables, over-easy eggs, and pizza. Three or four specials are made from scratch daily like pasta Bolognese, jerk pork, stuffed green peppers or roasted chicken. Fresh produce comes in through Evanston Township High School’s farm-to-school program with gardens, greenhouse, an orchard, and indoor grow towers.
Milka Marijanovic has worked in nutrition services for Evanston Township High School for more than a decade and remembers the old tilt skillet they used in the past. Food stuck to the thin aluminum, requiring painstaking scraping and cleaning between jobs. “It had no automatic cooking programs, was time-consuming because we couldn’t do anything else but monitor the cooking process, and it was very difficult to clean,” she recalls.
In the spring of 2019, the school replaced its old tilt skillet, steamer and fryer with a RATIONAL VarioCookingCenter® 211+, and the improvement was immediate, elevating food consistency and quality as well as efficiency in the kitchen.