Lunch will be a little more special on Friday at Norfolk schools, when students will get to try an award-winning dish created by one of their very own “lunch ladies.”
Cindy Nitz, a four-year employee at Norfolk High School, was recently named the winner of Lunchtime Solutions’ annual Staff Chef Award for her tasty recipe entry of Loaded Breakfast Tacos. Lunchtime Solutions operates food service at nearly 50 school districts across the Midwest, including at Norfolk.
Not only did Nitz win a personalized chef jacket and $100 for her winning submission, her Loaded Breakfast Tacos will also be served on all Lunchtime Solution district menus for lunch the same day, March 6.
In this year’s contest, Lunchtime was looking for recipes that could repurpose perfectly usable leftover ingredients being served in their current offerings that would otherwise be wasted.
"When we had the Loaded Hashbrown on the menu and there were leftovers, I didn't want to throw out a good product," Nitz said. "I talked to my Food Service Director Melissa Davis and (Assistant FSD Steve Webber) about if we could use it in a burrito with an egg. We already have an item with an egg and tots. I felt it would be a good product and it was."
Cindy's idea fit the bill perfectly, said Becky Easton, Culinary Research and Development Manager for Lunchtime Solutions.
“It’s a great new way to use food we already serve that meets nutritional requirements and caters to students’ tastes, and that is exactly what we were looking for,” Easton said.
The loaded hashbrowns are served as a lunch entrée at Lunchtime Solutions schools, combining diced ham, cheddar cheese, onions, sour cream and ranch seasoning. Cindy’s idea to take them to the next level has already been a success for breakfast at Norfolk and other schools, Easton said.
Nitz’s dish faced competition from several other submissions during the judging process. Easton headed up judging, going through two rounds of batch testing and tasting that included detailed scoring and student taste tests before choosing Loaded Breakfast Tacos as the winner.
Nitz has been married to her husband, Ron, for 45 years. They have 3 children and 3 grandchildren. She loves watching her grandsons in their sport activities, traveling and of course watching Nebraska Huskers games.
Nitz said she was pleased to win the contest, and that it was nice to receive this recognition from her peers and the community.
"I appreciate everything Cindy does for the students and for us," Davis said. "She handles all ordering, production, and staff with professionalism and pride. I am so grateful to work with her!"