Cafeteria Critiques

May 10, 2005 1 min read

At Carlisle High School in the Pennsylvania town of that name, students get a good laugh every month reading the cafeteria food reviews printed in the school newspaper.

Rick Seltzer, an 18-year-old graduating senior and columnist for the Periscope, has made a name for himself with humorous reviews of items on the cafeteria’s breakfast and lunch menus, from grilled cheese to french fries.

He gives each item a rating of zero to five “sporks,” the name of a plastic utensil that combines a spoon and a fork.

Mr. Seltzer’s column, titled “Rick’s Café Critique,” has become a staple at the paper at the 1,500-student school since last year. The student used to be the paper’s sports editor.

The cafeteria has added some healthier items to its menu lately—including baked grilled cheese on wheat bread. Perhaps Mr. Seltzer’s reviews sparked the change.

“I like to think I had a little bit to do with it,” Mr. Seltzer said last week. “The food has gotten better this year.”

Kelly M. Renard, the food-service director for the 4,700-student Carlyle Area school district, confirmed that she’s been trying to serve healthier items, including salads and fruit cups.

“I think it’s cute that he did it,” she said of the newspaper reviews.

According to Mr. Seltzer’s taste buds, the best dish offered at the cafeteria is the egg sandwich, served in the morning. The worst fare is the low-carbohydrate Slim-fast shakes, which he gave a rating of zero sporks.

“I try to give a lighthearted experience for the reader and to get some enjoyment out of it,” he said.

The first review Mr. Seltzer wrote was about the school’s clam chowder. He remembers walking in from a cold, blustery day and rendering this judgment: “How great it is to warm you up and how tasty it is.”

“Rick can look at the real common things in life and look at them in real fun and unique ways,” said Robert Moyer, the academic adviser for the Periscope.

Mr. Seltzer proclaims that a love of food is in his blood. His grandfather was a chef at a hotel, while his uncle is a chef at Dickinson College, both in Carlisle.

Mr. Seltzer will attend Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y., as a communications major in the fall.

Will he become a food critic for Zagat someday?

“If the opportunity presents itself to me, I could try,” he said. “I think I could have a lot of fun with it.”