Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Cutthroat Café-From the School Books to the Dish
Mark Caraluzzi and Danielle Carruth show off the ham and asparagus quiche.
Friday, May 10, 2019


It started off as a classroom study about food.

It materialized into a lunchtime café that sports mouthwatering dishes like Grass Fed Beef Meatloaf, Tomato Basil Soup, Eggplant Parmesan, Cheese Manicotti, Chicken Cutlets in Lemon Caper Butter Sauce  and Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna.

The Cutthroat Café is a new addition to the Sun Valley Community School. Its head chef: Mark Caraluzzi, former owner of Ciro Restaurant and a longtime food consultant.

Upper School students dig into the vegetarian quiche and niçoise salad.

Four days a week he prepares lunches boasting natural whole foods with no artificial flavors. food coloring or high fructose syrup in the school’s residential dorm. He then takes them to the dining hall at Hagenbuch Hall where as many as 95 of the schools’ 400 students fork out $7 for the lunches on any given day.

“I don’t think it’s cut into the number of lunches provided by Perry’s and other restaurants,” said School Head Ben Pettit. “It’s cut into the number of students who brown bag it.”

The Cutthroat Café had its genesis in a school study in which Upper School students learned about the food system in the United States and what it takes to produce healthy, sustainable food, said Junior Johnny Hagenbuch. “We learned about the social and science side of food, the economic side and how hard it is for people in cities to have access to nutritious whole foods. We decided we wanted to create a healthy sustainable food system for lunch.”

Caraluzzi worked with his wife Tracey Caraluzzi, who cooks the dorm dinners, to come up with a menu that offered something for everyone, whether they were on a gluten-free diet or some other diet.

This particular day’s offerings included corn chowder, cream of asparagus and vegetable soups.

He tries to offer three entrée choices, a couple of homemade soups, and a special salad like Organic Romaine Caesar Salad or Organic Kale Apple Salad, in addition to the salad bar.

“As an athlete, I love to eat and I love that this has a great variety—all good stuff,” said Hagenbuch, a Nordic skier who was recently named to the U.S. Ski Team development squad.

“I love all the options, and how all the food is really good. and I love the salad bar,” added Junior Shea Slanetz.

Caraluzzi has tried to source foods from local farmers and those associated with Mountain Fresh as much as possible. In the absence of Idaho’s Bounty, he recently found a new organic food vendor—Charlie’s Produce—from Spokane.

Parent volunteers Danielle Carruth and Jim Slanetz show off the ham and asparagus and vegetarian quiches.

Caraluzzi said he believes the foods provide healthy alternatives that, according to recent studies, contribute to students having better concentration in class, fewer absences and fewer classroom disruptions.

The food program is still in its infancy but already the meat loaf—both the beef and the Impossible Brand Vegetarian style –are hits, along with their accompanying mashed potatoes and peas. The grilled vegetable lasagna is very popular, as well, along with pizza, whether topped with asparagus and cherry tomatoes or pepperoni.

“Each week I have been adding some new dishes to our rotation to keep things fun and exciting for the teachers and students, as well as to get a sense of which selections are popular and should be included in future menus. I believe this program provides good tasting menu choices that are not found on most school lunch menus,” said Caraluzzi.

Caraluzzi said he’s been rewarded with an outpouring of appreciation from students, parents and teachers that he’s never seen before.

Johnny Hagenbuch, who won a gold medal for the United States at Junior Championships in Finland, says he appreciates nutritious foods that provide him the fuel he needs to train.

“It’s higher than even when I ran my own restaurants,” he said.





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