Submitted by Whitney Middle School
April 27, 2022
Seventh grade Texas history teacher Tony Dudik taught the inaugural culinary class at Whitney Middle School Saturday, April 9, for the new Culinary Arts and Teaching Symposium Program that he created this spring.
The program is the result of polling that Dudik conducted earlier in the spring when he asked students to think “outside of the box.” A number of them indicated that they would like to learn to cook recipes that have a significant historical or cultural tie to Texas, particularly Central Texas and Hill County.
In December, Dudik taught all of the seventh grade students to grind corn and wheat on his hand-crank gristmill that was made in 1872. They then used the cornmeal and flour to make cornbread in Dutch ovens on a fire behind the school.
Dudik taught the students how to make kolaches during the recent class. He furnished all of the ingredients and supplies, so the school and the students would not have to bear the cost of ingredients.
“After learning of the strong contributions of the Czech and Moravian immigrants to Hill and McLennan counties in the late 1800’s and early twentieth century, some of them asked to learn to make kolaches,” Dudik said.
After Dudik told them that they could make and sell them around Thanksgiving and Christmas like some sell tamales, their entrepreneurial interests picked up.
“From my research, this is the only program like this anywhere in the area. It’s just not part of the middle school curriculum. We very well may be the only school in the state that is doing this for seventh graders,” he said.
Classes for later this month and in May will make homemade bread, jalapeno and regular cornbread, and biscuits.
“One student said that we couldn’t make biscuits without gravy to go with them, so I think a traditional Texas breakfast will be on the calendar for the end of April,” he said.
Dudik explained that this program could not have happened without the support of Kendra Hensley, principal of Whitney Middle School, and Mark Page, assistant principal. “These two put their faith and trust in me to get this organized and here we are. We’re making the dreams of these students come true,” he said.
Dudik added that Hensley and Page are “incredible leaders and it is an honor and a distinct privilege to serve with them.”