Metz Middle School's cafeteria was transformed into a cajun clash of music, food and creole-style decorations Friday morning to celebrate Carnivale and try new menu items prepared by a local chef.
The Carnivale event was held to feature three new dishes prepared by local chef and owner of Okra's, Charles Gilliam as part of the 'Chef's Move to School's' program. The Chef even brought along his pet alligator, Gaston.
The seventh and eighth grade students appeared to really enjoy the new menu options, passing up the normal pizza, fries and chicken nuggets for a taste of Chef Gilliam's red beans and rice, Maquechoux and jazzed up chili cornbread.
In fact, the students enjoyed the new menu items so much food that was supposed to last two more lunch periods was all gone after the first.
Luckily the chef had one of his secret weapons on hand: Okra's General Manager Nick Kowalewski, who helped whip up a new batch of food for the remaining lunch periods.
The battle that pitted junk food versus a healthier alternative was clearly won by the chef's creations.
"That's just awesome, in the month I've been here helping out, I've never seen anything like that here," Gilliam said. "Today is the day where the students will get to eat probably the best institutional lunch they've ever had."
According to Director of Food Services of Manassas City Public Schools Cecily Anthony, the new menu items will be expanding into the entire public school system.
"We're really excited to be featuring the Jazzy Red Beans & Rice here at Metz today, but we are going to incorporate that into our six-week menu cycle, so it will come up at other times throughout the school year for all of the schools," Anthony said.
"I think this food is fantastic, really yummy, my favorite part is the cornbread," said Mikalah, a seventh grader.