Hid­den Val­ley Cafe

Hid­den Val­ley Cafe helps put VHSS on the map

Tillsonburg News - - FRONT PAGE - Chris Ab­bott cab­[email protected]­media.com

Jody Hevesi, hos­pi­tal­ity teacher at Val­ley Heights Sec­ondary School, took lunchtime food ser­vice to another level when she cre­ated the Hid­den Val­ley Cafe nearly two decades ago.

It is not a cafe­te­ria - the school also has a fully ser­viced cafe­te­ria Hid­den Val­ley Cafe is a res­tau­rant in the school, staffed by stu­dents.

“Stu­dents have lunch here, and staff as well,” said Leanne Buchanan, Head of Guid­ance at Val­ley Heights. “Three times a week (Tues­day, Wed­nes­day, Fri­day) they have a full lunch.”

It’s fast, it’s af­ford­able, it’s healthy, and maybe most im­por­tant, it’s good food.

“We do the ma­jor­ity of it from scratch,” said Hevesi, who teaches three classes a day and runs the lunch hour ser­vice. “I will or­der in crois­sants or bagels, but the ma­jor­ity is from scratch.

“Staff, stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers can come in, sit down, eat and en­joy a lunch dur­ing the lunch pe­riod.”

The cafe sets up for about 55 on a reg­u­lar-ser­vice day, plus take­out which brings it to about 120. Waste­free Wed­nes­day is the ex­cep­tion it’s dine-in only.

“We have a sandwich of the day, we have two sal­ads of the day, and then we have a dessert of the day.

“On the days that we’re not open (Mon­day and Thurs­day) we sell home­made soup, home­made buns... al­most like a soup kitchen. We make a mas­sive pot of soup and we serve prob­a­bly 200 por­tions of soup and fresh buns.”

Hid­den Val­ley Cafe prices have been stan­dard­ized - soup of the day is $1.50 and en­trees $5.

“You have to make it af­ford­able,” said Hevesi.

En­trees change daily - a typ­i­cal en­tree might be lasagna and salad, or pizza, or stuffed chicken. Last Thurs­day was pasta day.

“Right now my se­niors are bas­ing it on coun­tries. So for five weeks they have a cho­sen coun­try. Next week (Nov. 26-30) they’re do­ing Hun­gary - they’re pick­ing the most pop­u­lar Hun­gar­ian foods. We do foods that rep­re­sent those coun­tries to get a dif­fer­ent eth­nic ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s nice, re­ally dif­fer­ent.”

Stu­dents vol­un­teer­ing dur­ing the lunch pe­riod earn com­mu­nity ser­vice hours wait­ing on ta­bles and serv­ing food.

In ad­di­tion to the reg­u­lar hos­pi­tal­ity classes and lunches, Hid­den Val­ley Cafe also does cater­ing.

“A lot of cater­ing,” Hevesi nod­ded. “Right now we have about 800 pounds of tur­key din­ners or­dered be­tween to­mor­row (Nov. 22) and Christ­mas. We have schools, we have com­mu­nity mem­bers, Lions Club, Op­ti­mists... they call us and ask ‘can you make us tur­key din­ner for... how­ever many peo­ple?’”

Her Grade 10-12 hos­pi­tal­ity classes are usu­ally in the morn­ing and, af­ter fo­cus­ing on safety for the first two weeks in Septem­ber, they cook five days a week.

“Some stu­dents ac­tu­ally come to cater­ing events with me in the evening or on week­ends. It’s com­mu­nity ser­vice hours and it’s life skills. I also have co-op stu­dents and ap­pren­tice­ship stu­dents.”

Op­er­at­ing on a lim­ited budget, Hevesi makes it work by putting what­ever money is made at the res­tau­rant back into the pro­gram.

“It’s a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent, it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence. I want them to do this ‘hands on.’

“All my classes are full - Grade 9 through Grade 12 - they’re maxed out, which is nice. It’s a good hands on ex­pe­ri­ence for the kids and I think a big thing, too, is they want to get out of the class­room where they’re sit­ting down, they want to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. Not ev­ery­one wants to be a chef, but they like that it’s a dif­fer­ent at­mos­phere, the mu­sic’s play­ing and we’re up and about.

“I’ve been here 22 years and it’s been a lot of fun,” Hevesi smiled, not­ing hos­pi­tal­ity teacher was ac­tu­ally a sec­ond ca­reer. She started out as a chef at the Four Sea­sons in Mon­treal, then went back to school to get her teach­ing de­gree. With her chef ex­pe­ri­ence she carved out a suc­cess­ful ca­reer teach­ing hos­pi­tal­ity, even­tu­ally find­ing her home ‘in the val­ley’ south of Lang­ton on Hwy 59.

“This is home for me, this is truly home.”

Chris Ab­bott/Till­son­burg news

Stu­dents from Court­land Pub­lic School en­joy lunch at the Hid­den Val­ley Cafe lo­cated at Val­ley Heights Sec­ondary School on Hwy 59 south of Lang­ton.

Chris Ab­bott/Till­son­burg news

Pasta is served at the Hid­den Val­ley Cafe on Thurs­day, Nov. 15. The res­tau­rant is staffed by stu­dent vol­un­teers.

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