Dear Elmhurst Academy Parents and Families,
I’d like to take this time to introduce myself as the new Chef at Elmhurst Academy. My name is Chef Megan Senese and I have been working in the culinary industry for over six years now. As a child growing up I was always fascinated in the kitchen and took every opportunity to assist my mother and grandmother in anything they would let me help with. As I matured food not only became a passion of mine, but also sparked a lot of curiosity. Throughout my journey in the industry I encountered many people with food allergies and food intolerances due to medical restrictions. I looked for reasons why certain foods had such an effect on people and the obstacles they encountered when trying to maintain a dietary lifestyle that correlated to their health. I received my degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics at Dominican University, followed by Culinary Arts and Baking / Pastry at the Art Institute of Chicago. After receiving as much knowledge in these areas as I felt was adequate, I started my culinary career.
My first job was at a gluten free bakery in Riverside Illinois. While working there, I would open the store front, serve customers, and produce most of the baked goods that we provided. Some of our most popular items included, muffins, cookies and macaroons, but we also were known for doing very lavish desserts and fondant cakes. This job helped me understand firsthand the importance in observing strict guidelines for following food allergies restrictions. While employed there I learned the importance in making sure there is no cross contamination, but also how to interact with guests and customers to make sure all the proper information is obtained and followed properly.
After working at the bakery for some time, another opportunity presented itself. One that I can honestly say had the biggest impact on my career as of yet. I was offered an opportunity with Aramark at their Field Museum account. I started out as a cook and eventually earned the position as their Sous Chef. The experience I gained in this position was priceless. Our menus ranged from the simplest grab and go items, to the most lavish wedding and corporate gatherings. Our guest count could be anywhere from 3 people to a few thousand people. I learned the importance of details, time management, multitasking, teamwork, and overall perseverance. It truly broadened my horizons to how a kitchen works and different backgrounds when it comes to cooking. When I wasn’t working at the Field Museum, Aramark also sent me to assist other accounts. I spent a considerable amount of time at Soldier Field helping their staff on event days, and this last February I had the pleasure of traveling to the Washington Convention Center in Seattle, where I played a vital role in assisting with their food allergy menu items for their Microsoft Convention. All were completely different settings. This allowed me to achieve more that I could have imagined and supported the idea that I could do anything that I set my mind to. But deep down I wanted something more. I craved a position that focused more as to what first sparked my interest in the culinary industry; food and nutrition as a whole.
I feel truly honored for the opportunity to work with Elmhurst Academy. This job will allow me to use all my skills and once again be able to focus on the nutritional aspect of food. I hope to share a wide range of flavors, cuisines, and textures, while also providing nutritious and healthy options for everyone. I cannot wait to start this next chapter of my life and career with such a wonderful and longstanding establishment.