Go on the right day, and the menu might feature apple-pesto pizza, or kale-wrapped venison, or the classic: a Hali-Bacon Burger.
Many of the veggies are grown in a greenhouse right outside. All the salmon, halibut and venison are fished or hunted here on Haida Gwaii.
Sound like a starred restaurant, or a hip new café?
Try the kitchen at Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary School.
Already highly skilled with local field-to-table food, students at the Masset high school returned from summer to find a completely renovated kitchen to work in.
“I think the students deserve it,” says Christine Cunningham, who is teaching the Grade 11-12 Foods class.
“They’ve worked really hard on the foods program—they helped set up the greenhouse, got the compost rolling, got everything growing.”
One of those students, Eli Bedard, said the best thing about the new kitchen is all the extra space — like a MasterChef studio, it has an open plan featuring four ‘island’ stations with new counters, sinks, stoves, and ovens.
Jack Nychyporuk, a classmate who actually helped install the new kitchen floors this summer, agrees.
Before, he said, the kitchen had pairs of side-by-side stoves that were walled off from each other by tall cupboards.
Along with her students, Zoe Sikora, who is teaching Grade 8 and 9 Home Economics, said she welcomes the more spacious layout, not to mention the bright new windows, new fridges, new washer and dryer, and full suite of cooking utensils.
Sikora said is especially happy to be done with some quirks of the old kitchen, like the old oven doors that didn’t fully seal or required a well-placed hip check to close without falling off.
The kitchen will soon have a new interior wall and glass door to separate it from the Home Economics classroom, but everything is in place to start making daily snacks and lunches for the school four days a week.
“I’m excited,” said Principal Bernadette Marie, speaking after students put on a welcome-back barbecue with salmon and halibut donated by Haida Fisheries.
Gwaii Trust, Old Massett Culinary Arts, and Farm to School are also big supporters of the foods program, said Marie, along with the extraordinarily green-thumbed science teacher Daniel Schulbeck.
While he is away this year, Marie said his long-time students have been a big help to Christine Cunningham as they prep the school greenhouse, garden, and grow room for another harvest.
“That’s how school should be,” she said.
“They’re all learning together.”