New Face in the Cafeteria: Leo Hughes

Lila Patinkin

Leo Hughes –wearing a plaid shirt buttoned neatly up to his neck, black studs in each ear, hair neatly trimmed– looks like the type of person you would see sitting in a underground café, drinking chai oolong tea, and listening to the newest indie record on his white iPhone 5s. He does not look like the manager of a high school cafeteria, but there you go.

Leo’s fresh in from Albuquerque, New Mexico (like two and a half months fresh), where he worked in another school. After moving to Chicago, he did an interview with QUEST (which was suggested to him by his brother-in-law’s friend, who had worked with our very own Steven Obendorf, the executive chef/genius behind all of our fabulous meals), and landed the job immediately. Whether you’re a student or faculty member, starting at a new school can be rough, so I asked Leo how his transition went. With a smile he replied, “It’s great. The students are great, the faculty is great, the program’s amazing”. When asked about how his integration into the Latin community went, he responded just as enthusiastically. Leo went on to say that the most notable contrast between the school he was with in New Mexico and us Latin youths was how honest and trustworthy the students are here. You might remember the shipment of iced tea and candy laying around the school a week or so ago (I certainly do), well Leo said he was “very impressed with the student body” over the fact that nothing had been stolen. Along with being pleased with the students, Leo thinks that there is “quite the team” working in the cafeteria.

In the beginning of each year, upperclassmen are adjusting to their schedules, sophomores (the seemingly 2000 of us) are rushing to up and down stairs, and freshmen are generally confused. During the peak hours, the cafeteria simply can’t contain the frantic, starving, savage nature of Latin students. Leo has a few ideas about making the serving section of the cafeteria more navigable, but seeing as how most of the structures are fixed, “the layout’s a bit funky”, and there’s very little that can be done. However, we, according to Leo, can do a few things to help ourselves and the staff. “I would say just be mindful of what’s going on, like, if people are trying to get to another station. Just clearing space, leaving aisles if possible, that kind of thing.” It’s very hard to change the habits of hungry teenagers waiting for Jobo’s excellently prepared pasta, but it’s better to heed Leo, and frankly the rest of the Latin school lunch-goers’ wishes.

Regarding food, Latin prides itself on being generally healthy, especially since QUEST took charge, but Leo wants to take health even further. “A lot of, like, the candy bars up there, the sugary drinks and stuff, we’re not going to chuck them out the window, but we’d like to introduce students into alternatives that are a little bit more healthy, and a little more sustainably produced.” It’s going to be hard to ween us hormonal children off our Izzes and pretzel M&M’s, but thankfully Leo understands processed food in America well enough to help us gently through the process.

Leo himself, well, he’s an actor. He’s not in anything right now, so don’t get your knickers in a twist trying to find his show times online. In Albuquerque he was in shows such as La Cage aux Folles, starring as Jean-Michel. He doesn’t consider himself much of a comedic actor, but prefers drama or musical theatre. Though he hasn’t had much time for his ambition lately, what with his job, setting up his apartment, and some family events coming up, he still says that “theatre’s probably going to come into the scene probably around October”, so be sure to ask him where he’s performing so we can support him Latin style! I say go full out orange and blue, posters with witty puns, pom-poms, and definitely the spray painting of hair.

Leo Hughes is an ambitious, charismatic, and friendly new addition to the Latin community. If you have a spare moment, or if he ever gets a minute to breathe after lunch, I highly suggest trying you get to know him. Let’s make his Latin 125 experience something to remember.