Chef Chris goes ‘whole hog’

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Donation, chef’s culinary artistry allow MLPS students, staff to pig out

Chef Chris went “whole hog” for Mountain Lake Public School (MLPS) students and staff today (Friday, May 26), after spending an overnight visit in the school’s back parking lot while tending to the roasting of a donated 165-pound hog,

Chef Chris, a frequent guest chef at MLPS, pulled into the lot on Thursday afternoon, May 25, with his pickup, fifth-wheel camper – and culinary artistry – in tow. He spent Thursday night into Friday morning roasting the hog on a rotary-spit cooker.

Prior to placing the main entree in the roasting grill, the chef used a mustard and mesquite rub. The roasting, at a temperature of 175°-200°, began at 6 p.m. Thursday, and ran 14 hours, to 8 a.m. Friday morning. The chef, and Taher Food Service Staff at MLPS, led by Taher Food Service Director Tammy Wolle, then shredded the pork and topped it with a sweetened orange glaze, giving the meat a light citron flavor.

The meal was served up in that same back parking lot to K-12 students, faculty and support staff during their respective noon lunch breaks.

Penner Farms of Butterfield donated the farm fresh hog for the roast. Penner Farms includes Joel and Bernice Penner, along with their sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, Jason and Laura Penner and their children, Ian, Aiden, Isabelle and Lucy and Mark Penner. The Penners were named the Watonwan County Farm Family in 2011.

Chef Chris Murray is a member of the Taher Chef Council. Taher is the food service provider at the school. Members of the Taher Chef Council travel around the world as a team in order to stay on the cutting edge of the culinary field.

Before Chef Chris joined Taher, Inc. in 2003 as Corporate Catering Manager, his culinary experiences included – Director of Catering for the Minnesota Vikings Food Service preparing food for the executive suites and VIP parties at the Hubert H. Humphrey dome; Chef at the Eden Prairie City Center, catering weddings, corporate functions and private parties; Executive Chef to the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and Board of Directors for the IDS/American Express Corporation and owner of a successful “Personal Chef Service,” catering dinners, proms and private parties. In 1998, Chris had the privilege of catering the 1998 United States Presidential visit of Bill Clinton.

As Regional Chef for Taher, Chef Chris assists with new account openings and large catered events, and awes customers with his On Display cooking of international cuisine at Taher-managed accounts. He is an active member of the Minneapolis Chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) where he enthusiastically donates his time to help others less fortunate. In 2001, he was awarded the “Presidential Hero of Everyday Life” award for his work feeding homeless, and in 2007, as Taher’s Executive Chef at Hennepin Technical College (HTC), Chris received the “Spirit of the Heart” award given by Dr. Kathryn Jeffery, President of HTC-BP, for his commitment to students. He has organized many fundraising golf tournaments to assist charitable organizations, and participated in “We Can Ride” fundraising dinners for handicapped children in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Following is a photo gallery of the visit of Chef Chris to the kitchen and back parking lot of MLPS:

 

CHEF CHRIS APPLIES the mustard/mesquite rub to the hog prior to placing it in the roaster. (Tammy Wolle photo)

 

EVEN THOUGH THE hog had only been cooking for about two hours at 8 p.m. Thursday evening, it looked delicious – the wonderful aroma wafting across the MLPS back parking lot, carried on the breeze. Above, Chef Chris checks the rotating spit.

 

THIS IS HOW the chef rolls. While tending the roasting hog, Chef Chris had with him his fifth-wheel camper – and his music.

 

MLPS TAHER FOOD Service’s Sue Ellen Holmberg, left, prepares a shredded pork sandwich for her fourth-grade son, Noah Holmberg, right.

 

A VARIETY OF condiments were available with which to top the pork sandwiches – from ketchup to mustard to barbecue sauce (or all of the above). Above, Thaila Sengchan, left, squirts a dollop of barbecue sauce on her sandwich while McKenna Parent, right, waits for her turn at the squeeze bottle. Both girls are fourth-graders.

 

CHEF CHRIS, AT left, watches over the first-grade students as they dish up their noon lunch. On top of the shredded pork sandwich on whole-wheat bun, the menu included baked beans, watermelon, fresh veggies (cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, etc.), chips, Rice Krispie bar and milk.

 

EIGHTH-GRADER MACE Herrig takes a big bite of his shredded pork sandwich.

 

SEVERAL MEMBERS OF the Penner Family were on hand to share in the event. Joining them were MLPS Taher Food Service Director Tammy Wolle and Chef Chris. From left, Wolle, Chef Chris, Joel Penner, Bernice Penner, Isabelle Penner and Laura Penner. Ian, Isabelle and Lucy Penner are students at MLPS, while Aiden studies at Mountain Lake Christian.

 

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