FSD Robyn Kunze has been with SAGE for nearly five years in her current position at Phoenix Country Day School. Robyn is an experienced chef, avid educator, and team leader who brings her passion for food and community to everything she does.
What do you do on a daily basis?
I do a lot of planning and organizing. I’m always coordinating orders and menus, and working with my Team when they need help with anything. I also help out with serving and with teaching the kids, both in the dining hall and in class.
What's the best part of your job?
I love working with the school. While we wear SAGE uniforms, we're also a part of the school, a part of a bigger team. The school supports us and we support the school.
And the most challenging part?
Having so many kids with food allergies. Especially the youngest kids—not yet making the right choices, not yet aware of the consequences of eating something they shouldn’t. I keep a close eye on those kids. Over 10.5% of our student body—that’s 78 kids—has some sort of food allergy. I help them on a day-to-day basis.
What makes you feel most a part of the community?
During the school year, I teach middle school cooking electives. I like to mix them up every year. I’ve taught “Cooking for Boys: How to Impress the Girls,” where students learned how to make cupcakes and other baked goods, and “Healthy Eating,” where we made things like salad dressing. I also teach cooking classes for Grades 3-5 as part of the schoolwide summer camp—I’ve got 32 kids this summer.
What’s special about being a part of SAGE?
My Team is fantastic. They work together in one cohesive wheel that just keeps rolling. I’ve never had to worry if someone’s sick or even ask someone else to cover; they just know what to do.
What do you like to cook best? Any specialties or favorite cuisines?
I like cooking anything. I’m not the best pastry chef—because I don’t like following the rules all the time!—but I really enjoy ethnic foods with flavor: authentic Indian, Asian, and Mexican dishes.
What’s one of your favorite experiences or memories as an FSD?
I’ve been here for five years. I began teaching the SAGE Spotlight Program® in my first year, so now my preschoolers are going into middle school. They still come up and proudly show me the veggies on their plates—because, in their words, “You told me I needed to have vegetables!”
Do you enjoy cooking off the clock?
[Laughs] I wish I didn’t, but I do. My husband always says he feels so lucky, because he has a wife who cooks all day, then comes home and cooks some more.
What’s your favorite holiday to cook for?
I’m from South Africa, so I never had Thanksgiving growing up. Roasting a turkey is still exciting to me. And I make the best stuffing ever! Now we make it at the school every year. I’ve even sent the recipe home with the faculty, so we all make the same stuffing come Thanksgiving.
What's your favorite dish?
Bobotie, a traditional South African dish that's a little sweet and a little savory. It's ground beef cooked with curry and raisins and topped with an egg custard.
And your best chef's tip?
I have herbs growing around my home and school. They give dishes a pop of flavor and color, and their aroma entices kids to eat. My own kids go into the garden and eat fresh basil and mint leaves right off the plants!