The Cook Off

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By Shane Maher, Staff Writer

Roman Grinevics and I have had a long standing rivalry concerning school lunches. With both of us having the same lunch on both days, we’ve gotten to know each other’s eating habits fairly well. For instance, it’s almost a guarantee that on any day of the year I will have brought in a plastic container of cape cod chips or pretzels complemented by some sort of vegetable (usually snap peas.) This isn’t a very hardy lunch but I’m never that hungry until the final bell rings. Rest assured, the second I come home I always make a sandwich or heat up some leftovers to get properly fed. 

Roman and Shane face off.

Yet almost daily, when I sit down in the cafeteria or outside and take off my mask, I’m met with criticism from Roman. He says I’m not eating ”properly” and snacks like cape cod chips or pretzels are bad for you. This however, is always met with rebuttal, as I grill him on his insane culinary choices. The things I have witnessed get pulled out of his bag and put onto the table is beyond me. Roman has brought a large container of unseasoned potatoes to lunch on multiple occasions. This was quite common in the early parts of the year but his taste evolved into a whole wheat tortilla wrap with a thin slice of turkey as his meal mid day. I will save Roman the humiliation of the photos I’ve gathered of his horrible inedible meals but just know, that album is long and depressing. 

He said my food would cause them “stomach failure” and I said “at least it’ll get to their stomach since they’ll just gag at yours.”

Now, after lunch on B days, we would go back to our Spanish 5 classroom where I would make a point to Mr. Castro about the food Roman was eating. I figured that since he’s a mandated reporter, he would save Roman’s taste buds. Day after day, we would argue to Mr. Castro. I would repeat my opinions on Roman’s lunches and he would refute my claims by saying “at least my food is good for you.” He would then rant about how my container of goldfish would cause me long term health issues, and I would say “at least I can eat it without making a face.”

This would go on for months. But one day, Mr. Castro gave us an idea. He said that to settle our ongoing dispute we needed to have a cook off about who could make the best school lunch and he would be the judge. We all agreed, including Mr. Dolan and Ms. Tozzi as judges. 

The trash talk shortly ensued. Roman and I promised each other we’d each win and make a better meal. He said my food would cause them “stomach failure” and I said “at least it’ll get to their stomach since they’ll just gag at yours.” Nonetheless we went off and prepared our meals. 

One of Shane’s culinary masterpieces.

The night of February the 17th, I spent one hour preparing a whole course. A balsamic salad with goat cheese and pomegranate seeds, cheese quesadillas, and my secret ramen recipe. The ramen was “Mike’s Mighty Good Ramen” paired with additional soy sauce and fried egg yolk for a rich flavor. And of course I added some Chips Ahoy cookies as a dessert just for the little cherry on top. 

The following day, we each brought in our coolers, ready to battle. At 11:55, third block, Mr. Castro said “vamos a comer” and we got things going.

While all this was being prepared in Gardiner, Roman was in New Paltz, preparing his own meal. He made a fruit salad with mango, apples, and pear. This was accompanied by quinoa rice with the entree being empanadas with chicken and pepper. (I have to say I tried one of the empanadas; they were quite good.)

The following day, we each brought in our coolers, ready to battle. At 11:55, third block, Mr. Castro said “vamos a comer” and we got things going. Roman took out his cooler full of his food and I did the same. We gathered the teachers together and got Ms. Kamras to fill in for Ms. Tozzi’s class. (We compensated Ms. Kamrass with an empanada.) The three teachers tried our food, conversed about the English teacher group chat, then made their decisions. 

Ms. Tozzi

“All the food was great, maybe not the quinoa rice, but still. All in all, I liked putting things together. Shane’s salad with the quesadillas were very good and I liked the cookies too, however the empanadas were amazing and took the most effort, which paid off. I have to go with Roman.”

Mr. Castro

“My favorite food is a good empanada, which means I have them all the time. While I was extremely impressed by the complexity of flavors and the right consistency of moisture, I was pleasantly surprised by the ramen. I’ve only really had ramen twice before this, and whenever I eat it I think ‘why don’t I eat this more?’ So with that, by a hair, I think I liked Shane’s food better.’

At this point the score was 1-1, with Mr. Dolan being the deciding factor.

Mr. Dolan

“The entrees were a tie, I was very impressed with both of them. That makes this a competition of the sides. I loved the salad, I loved the quinoa, but ya know, there was something about that fruit salad that just did it for me. Everything was perfectly ripe and I tasted a bit of lime juice there. Very good stuff, good job Roman.”

And with that, Roman was the winner. I was proud of what I had made but I myself must admit he did better. I mean who goes out of their way like that to make homemade empanadas, he put in way more effort than I did. Per our bet, I am no longer allowed to make fun of Roman’s lunches, no matter what he brings in. Thank you to everyone who participated and extra thanks to Ms. Tozzi for letting us use her microwave. And thank you for reading!