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Cooking with passion

A taste of senior Zander Lionelli's life

While+Cadet+Teaching+in+Culinary+Arts%2C+Zander+Lionelli+stirs+homemade+spaghetti+sauce.
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Cooking with passion

While Cadet Teaching in Culinary Arts, Zander Lionelli stirs homemade spaghetti sauce.

While Cadet Teaching in Culinary Arts, Zander Lionelli stirs homemade spaghetti sauce.

Debra Klevens

While Cadet Teaching in Culinary Arts, Zander Lionelli stirs homemade spaghetti sauce.

Debra Klevens

Debra Klevens

While Cadet Teaching in Culinary Arts, Zander Lionelli stirs homemade spaghetti sauce.

Sophia Ferretti, Convergent Media Writer

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Standing in the kitchen, hovering over the stovetop, senior Zander Lionelli creates a pasta recipe from scratch. Lionelli’s free time is always spent in the kitchen.

“I typically like to make pasta because it’s a ‘blank canvas.’ You can add whatever you want to it and it can still be good,” Lionelli said.

Since the third grade, Lionelli has been drawn to the culinary arts.

“I’m not sure what it is, something just draws me to it,” Lionelli said. “There’s one fond memory I have of it: in fourth grade, I made brownies for my teacher, Mrs. Simmons, and she loved them. She ate half the tray before she left. I realized then that I must be pretty good at cooking.”

To decide what to prepare each day, Lionelli draws inspiration from restaurants, cookbooks and family members.

“Usually it’s something I’ve had at a restaurant or just something that I’ve taken an interest into making,” Lionelli said. “I find them online sometimes or there’s this Italian Immigrant Cooking book full of recipes that my father and his family would have eaten when he was a child.”

Growing up Lionelli taught himself how to cook and has taken a few classes through the Family and Consumer Science Department.

“I took Pro Start I last year, and now I’m Mrs. Hashley’s cadet teacher for that class as well. I’ve taught myself through trial and error. Usually, it’s just me in the kitchen,” Lionelli said. “Also, whatever I cook I’ll eat it for dinner because that’s usually when I cook, either after school or on the weekends, then I’ll share it with my family.”

Depending on the dish, Lionelli determines the length of time he needs to set aside based on the ingredients he finds in the pantry.

“I try to use what’s in the house, but if there are only like one or two things that I need I’ll go to the store and buy it,” Lionelli said. “If you don’t have everything you can try and substitute in for what you do have or if you think you don’t need something you can just omit it completely or you could just switch things around and try to try something new with what you do have.”

While Lionelli is passionate about cooking, he does not plan to pursue a career.

“I’ve thought about a culinary career, but I think it is just more of a hobby,” Lionelli said. “I do work at Surrey Place in St. Luke’s Hospital, in food service. I serve and I catch the clean dishes and put those away.”

Lionelli enjoys the hands-on nature of cooking.

“It’s something that you can take full control of and do whatever you want with,” Lionelli said. “Opportunities in life have to be seized, you can’t just wait for something to be handed to you on a plate, like food, unless you’re cooking for somebody else.”

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Cooking with passion