Inside the schools: Skyline High School club is cooking up plenty of flavor


According to Lily Tai, president of the Skyline High School Cooking Club, you don’t have to be an expert cook to join the group. You don’t have to know how to fry, filet or fricassee.

Heck, you don’t even have to know how to cook.

You just gotta like food. Raise your hands if you like food – yeah, that’s what I thought.

“That’s it, if you’re a staff member or student at Skyline and you like food, you can join,” said Tai, a 17-year-old senior who is in her fourth year in the cooking club and second year as its president. In fact, one of the most fun parts of being president of the club is watching the kids come in who have know idea how to cook – who might even be afraid to try to cook, at first – and watch them have fun and learn how to do it.”

Tai (left center), along with co-vice presidents Santana Malnaik and Karpu Palaniappan, lead a group of 10-15 members from 2:45-4:30 p.m. every other Friday who are sponsored by chemistry teacher Kathe Blue Hetter and physics and math teacher David Greene. Each student pays $3 every club meeting for the “grocery fund,” and students are in charge of purchasing the food, creating the menu and, of course, eating the meals.

Tai leads the club much of the time, and decides what is on the menu and purchases the food in advance. Since she is from Taiwan, she often makes Chinese food, such as fried rice and fried noodles. And there was the one time last year where a whopping 20-plus students showed up for the club meeting when they found out the club was going to cook (and eat) her delicious orange chicken.

“Yeah, we weren’t expecting that many kids to come, but luckily we had enough food for everyone,” Tai said. “And everyone really seemed to enjoy it. We expect another big crowd when we have orange chicken this year.”

When Tai is leading, she doesn’t actually do any of the cooking. She breaks students into groups, depending on how many are at the club meeting that day, and assigns each of them a meal-specific task as she instructs.

For instance, for the orange chicken, Tai had one group of students cut vegetables, another cube the chicken, another chop onions, and another beat eggs. It’s all conducted in Room A315, a room equipped with an oven, stove, sink, and cookware.

“There is no cooking class in the curriculum at Skyline, so this is the only outlet the students have if they want to learn how to cook; they kind of teach themselves,” said Hetter, who took over sponsoring the club with Greene this year after former sponsor Dr. Jeff Finnan retired. “They really have a lot of fun with it. They do the shopping and keep the food in my prep room’s refrigerator, and it’s really a big social and learning event for Lily and the rest of the kids.”

When Tai isn’t instructing club members, Malnaik and Palaniappan take over, preparing foods, deserts and cookies. For instance, Malnaik found a tasty Apple Rose Tart recipe on Pinterest (see recipe at end of story) the club baked in November.

Tai doesn’t mind turning over the reins to her co-vice presidents from time to time, but she’d rather lead the club than take part in the cooking.

Co-vice president Santana Malnaik

“I like being the leader of the club,” she said. “I do a lot of cooking at home, so that’s where I’ve learned to do it. When I want to cook, I do it at home. When I want to teach other kids to cook, I do it at school.”

The students try to keep the menu varied, but there are restrictions.

“You can’t get too crazy, because you don’t have a lot of time,” Tai said. “We only have a couple of hours, and there’s clean-up to do, so we like to have good food, but you have to keep it kind of simple.”

Most of the club members are girls, but there are “two guys who show up almost every time,” Tai said. But, whether it be boy or girl, the club president has advice for those thinking about coming out every other Friday to Room A315.

“Even if you don’t know how to cook, don’t worry about it,” she said. “Just try it out, and before you know it, you’ll be cooking.”


Pastry sheets, Gala apples, Lemon juice, Water,
Cream cheese, Cinnamon, Sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  1. Prepare muffins tins
  2. Halve the apples, scoop out the core and slice thinly.
  3. Combine the apple slices with lemon juice and water in a bowl and microwave for 3 minutes.
  4. Cut the puff pastry into thin, even strips. (~4 to 6)
  5. Spread the cream cheese the pastry.
  6. Liberally sprinkle the cinnamon & sugar over the cream cheese.
  7. Arrange the apple slices overlapping each other on one half of the pastry with the top of the apple just above the pastry.
  8. Fold the bottom half of the pastry up over the top and roll up.
  9. Place in prepared muffin tins.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes or until pastry puff up & turns golden brown (time may vary)






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