Walleye players skate into Penta for healthy cooking lesson
On Tuesday, Jan. 14, 25 members of Toledo Walleye hockey team and their coaches skated into the Penta Career Center Culinary Lab for lunch – which they cooked themselves under the guidance of junior culinary arts students.
After a brief tour and presentation by instructor Chef Jim Rhegness, the players were teamed up with their teachers for the afternoon and set out to get cooking.
The outing was one of several off-ice team-building activities the players are participating in this season. “The coach tries to organize something off the ice once a month,” said Andi Roman, communications director for the Walleye. “Some of the guys are younger and they haven’t had a lot of experience with cooking, so Coach thought this might be especially beneficial.”
The menu, which included salad, Turkey Cutlet California, roast salmon, rice pilaf and cooked vegetables, was chosen by Chef Rhegness. “We only had two hours – so I chose basic foods that were healthy and that we could complete, allowing time for instruction.”
Some might think the rough-and-ready members of the Toledo Walleye team would be like fish out of water in a kitchen setting, however the athletes stepped up to the challenge.
Forward Alden Hirschfeld, a Sylvania native, was paired with Katelyn Rhodes, a Penta culinary student from Eastwood.
“I’m learning a lot of skills I’ll definitely use,” Hirschfeld said. “During the week, when we’re not traveling, we usually practice in the morning and then we’re back at our own places for lunch and dinner, so maybe I’ll demonstrate my new skills for my wife and see if I can do this well at home – I doubt that I’ll be able to make it this good.”
Asked if Hirschfeld was a good student, Rhodes nodded. “So far.” (Hirschfeld was loaned to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL Jan. 22.)
Across the kitchen, goaltender Mac Carruth and defenseman Phil Oreskovic were working on their knife skills under the tutelage of student chef Sylvia Morris, of Lake.
“Sylvia’s such a good teacher,” Oreskovic said.
“I cook quite a bit, but I never really learned the hands-on basics of the right way to do things.” Carruth said. “Like how to use a knife properly – hopefully this will help me save a couple of fingers down the road.”
The cooking lesson with her sous chefs, forward Kyle Rogers and defenseman Phil Rauch, was “going great,” said Johnica Damschroder, of Oak Harbor.
“They’re catching on really well,” she said.
“Ahhh…she got two married guys,” Rogers said. “Our wives put us to work back home quite a bit, however I will say I have never tackled anything like this. I definitely learned a few new tricks.”
After the trio had finished preparing the rice pilaf for cooking, Damschroder headed to the stove. “This will be different from rice in a bag,” Rogers said.
“I especially appreciate that we’re working on healthy food options,” Rogers said. “Trying to learn the right way to eat to try and stay healthy is especially key for athletes.”
Asked what his wife said when she learned he’d be bringing home some new cooking skills tonight, Rogers said, “She loved it.
“We split the cooking,” he said. “I usually cook more on the grill, she’s in the kitchen, but now, after this, maybe we’ll switch it up a bit and I’ll take the kitchen and she can head outside in this beautiful weather.”
“This has been fun – definitely something new,” Rogers added. “Not a lot of people get an opportunity to go to a school and get cooking lessons.”
In the midst of the hot kitchen abuzz with activity, Chef Rhegness surveyed the scene, pleased with the confidence and competence his students were displaying.
“It was church-mouse quiet in here before these guys got here,” he said over the din. “But they’re doing great.”