ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

'We make do with what we have': Meet Chantal Crandell, DHS' dedicated head cook

Dickinson High School doesn't have a stove in its kitchen, but that doesn't stop head cook Chantal Crandell from cooking. She finds work-arounds, steaming vegetables in a steamer and boiling water for oatmeal on a small hot plate.

Chantal Crandell, Dickinson High School's head cook, spends extra time in the kitchen. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)
Chantal Crandell, Dickinson High School's head cook, spends extra time in the kitchen. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson High School doesn't have a stove in its kitchen, but that doesn't stop head cook Chantal Crandell from cooking. She finds work-arounds, steaming vegetables in a steamer and boiling water for oatmeal on a small hot plate.

"We make do with what we have," she said.

Crandell said when Principal Hoherz first started, she jokingly asked him about getting a stove, which he would have done had she not decided that she would rather spend the money where they might need it elsewhere. She doesn't have a good place to put one, either, she added.

But she would like to have another freezer.

The one they have now is inside their walk-in fridge, and in the beginning of the week, it's stuffed from floor to ceiling with no room to step inside. Crandell said the space was fine until they started offering breakfast. Now, with both lunch and breakfast food in the freezer, there isn't room for everything.

ADVERTISEMENT

They try to stack all of the breakfast food together on the side, so it's more easily accessible. The delivery man helps organize the boxes he brings so they don't have to unpack the freezer to reach what they need.

"My delivery guy really ... he is so good," Crandell said. "I tell him what my menu is, and so he puts my Friday stuff in the back and my Monday stuff in the front so we can work our way into the freezer."

Some days, though, the lunchroom will get a delivery while she's busy with breakfast, and the process changes.

"So then sometimes on Sunday I'll have to come-when my husband's watching football-I come and I pull everything out, find what I know I need, put it back in and try to organize it when I put it back in," Crandell said. "I do that quite often."

She said she doesn't ask for a lot, but when she does, the school provides it. She also acknowledges that some schools are worse off.

"Oh my gosh, some of their kitchens-they can barely turn around," Crandell said. "So I am pretty grateful for what I do have, and I've learned to just live with what we have."

The DHS kitchen is her project. She works after hours and during the summer to make it the best it can be. Last summer, she worked on the countertops.

"I couldn't get anybody to do it, so I came during the summer time and sanded them all down and sealed them," Crandell said. "I do a lot of stuff like that. I came in and took all of my vents out of the ceiling and cleaned them. I should get up and do my ceiling fans, now that I'm looking up there."

ADVERTISEMENT

She and her coworkers put special effort into the salad bar, which is where Crandell started when she came to DHS from Colorado.

"We like to make our own salads for the salad bar because we can make them (with) less sodium, less calories, less fat, fresh," Crandell said.

They also like adding new things, healthy options the students might not have tried or even heard of before, like shaved brussel sprouts, shredded beets and kiwi.

"All three of us stay up all night thinking of different things to do and different ways to make lunch better and fun and healthier for the kids and make them make better choices," she said.

They form bonds with the students they feed, too.

"They come and visit with us about their home life ... They don't have anybody else to talk to," Crandell said. "They need a safe place, and we're unbiased; we're not teachers, we're not principals, we're just-we're just the lunch lady. It's funny cause they feel like they can come talk to us, and we're not going to judge them."

"I remember when I was in school, the lunch ladies were cool," she said. "We try to be the cool ones."

ADVERTISEMENT

The freezer in Dickinson High School's cafeteria is packed from floor to ceiling with the week's food. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)
The freezer in Dickinson High School's cafeteria is packed from floor to ceiling with the week's food. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)

Related Topics: DICKINSON HIGH SCHOOL
What To Read Next
An investigation found that students used racial slurs and actions toward minority basketball players from Bismarck High School.
Members Only
Morton County State's Attorney Allen Koppy proposes plea deal in negligent homicide case that could see accused avoid jail and criminal record
DICKINSON – Dickinson residents are thrilled as a new cheerleading program for elementary school children, Dickinson Mini Cheer, launches in the community. With 33 kids already enrolled and a halftime performance planned for Feb. 11, the program is set to bring excitement and develop skills for local
Two-year program consisting of 62 semester hours of coursework and practical training launches this August