Take one scoop of the elegance of New York hotels, a heap of experience and a sprinkle of culinary love. Now throw them all together and mix well.
This recipe creates one Frank Lihn and serves approximately 2600 people.
On Sept. 20, Lihn replaced Emerin Wang as the manager of the cafeteria. Fremont Union High School District hired Lihn based on his nearly 40 years of experience in the food services industry. Lihn worked as a chef in multiple prestigious hotels, including the Waldorf Astoria and the Plaza, and was the director of nutrition at the Santa Barbara and Fort Bragg school districts. Bolstered by his culinary expertise, Lihn plans to direct the cafeteria in a healthier, fresher direction akin to that of professional restaurants.
Lihn will channel most of his skills into helping the cafeteria shift away from precooked meals and towards “scratch-cooking.” According to Lihn, cooking fresh food will be healthier, cheaper and tastier.
“Our intent is to increase participation [in the cafeteria] by…making the meals something that the students will look forward to,” Lihn said. “[We want students to think] ‘It’s lunchtime. What’s happening in the kitchen today?’”
To foster student interest in the cafeteria, Lihn plans to implement exhibition cooking—cooking in front of the students. Lihn hopes to extend the scope of such cooking beyond Wednesday barbecues by expanding to stir-fry days as well.
“I’ll go out and just cook up a stir-fry…and you walk by I’m just chook chook chook—here’s your vegetable, here’s your rice, and off you go,” Lihn said. “It’ll be more exciting than walking in and standing in line.”
The transition to meals from scratch and exhibition cooking has been made easier thanks to the dedication of his staff, particularly that of coworker Chun-Mei Lundgren, whom he praised as an extremely competent cook.
Lihn’s coworkers seem to appreciate him just as much as he appreciates them. According to Lundgren, the district could not have hired anyone better than Lihn. FUHSD coordinator of nutrition services Bill Schuster agrees.
“He’s excited about the school…he really likes the students,” Schuster said. “This [job] is perfect for him.”
Lihn confirmed Schuster’s beliefs by stating that he derives pleasure from serving students.
“We’re feeding the children. And that is an important thing,” Lihn said. “What could be more satisfying?”