While a duck and the Hockaday kitchen seemingly have nothing in common, Hockaday’s Food Service Director Jaime Orman believes it is the perfect metaphor. In order to appear graceful above the water and serve high quality food to 1093 students, 136 faculty and 211 staff during the week and 74 boarders on the weekends, the kitchen staff works behind the scenes, just like a duck’s frantic legs underwater.
As the director, Orman makes sure that the kitchen runs smoothly by scheduling workers, planning the menu and events, ordering food and paying bills. When Hockaday hosts a special event, like the recent Hockaday Parents’ Association Benefit Party for the students in the cafeteria, Orman adorns the lunch line with elaborate decorations like disco lights and streamers hanging from the ceiling.
She also plays music in the cafeteria and boosts the morale of the students who enter, which Orman especially loves about her job.
“Making sure you guys are happy is my favorite part about it,” Orman said.
Before Orman began her job with SAGE, she worked as a classically trained chef in French cuisine. Once Orman had children, she decided to work in an environment that allowed her to have more time off with her kids.
“When I found SAGE it was like a mixture of both worlds. One where I could create good food and bring joy to others and one that I could also pick up my kids after school,” Orman said.
Under Orman’s direction, many other workers thrive at Hockaday, including Renequial Walker, better known as Miss Nikki. Walker mainly serves food to students during breakfast and lunch, but she also slices the deli meats for the sandwich station and pre-made sandwiches on the lunch line and prepares the salad bar.
Walker is also the Head Allergy Server. In that job, she makes sure all girls with dietary restrictions receive nourishing food. Students with allergies can meet with Walker to find healthy options, and she guides younger girls with allergies through the line.
Walker enjoys everything about her job: the kids, the atmosphere, her coworkers and the teachers.
“I’m happy when I walk in here. I like it,” Walker said.
Walker believes that the SAGE and Hockaday communities are intertwined and have family atmospheres in both. The only difference between Hockaday dining before Sage and with Sage now is the uniform.
While Walker is one of the most recognizable people at Sage, many work behind the scenes to pull off a perfect lunch, like baker Lola Miller. She bakes the sweet treats and baked goods, from Ricotta Rainbow Cookies to Zucchini Blueberry Bread, for lunch, dinner and catering orders.
Miller enjoys Hockaday’s close-knit community and the time off that comes with a school schedule such as winter, spring and summer breaks, but she works at Hockaday because of her true passion: baking.
“I like that it’s a science, and that it takes time, and it can’t be rushed. It’s precise,” Miller said.
Miller, Orman and Walker want students to know how fortunate they are to receive an excellent dining experience. And they take their job seriously, making sure to cook and serve the best food possible all for the joy of the students.
“I’ve always felt that when you cook good food it makes people feel good,” Orman said. “Cooking for others has always brought me great joy whether it’s here feeding 1,000 or at home feed much less.”
Story & Photos by Kate Woodhouse, Photo Graphics Editor