FHS Brings Community Together with a Cookbook

Frederick High School’s newest science teacher Erich Hoffman found an amazing way to bring the Frederick Community together.


Liz Kulesus

Mr. Coon is making a batch of his family’s gingerbread recipe just like you could be doing with any of the recipes found in the FHS Cookbook

Elicia Ramu, Staff Writer

There’s nothing better than finding the perfect cookbook that has everything your taste buds are looking for. Depending on your preferences you may seek out one pot wonders that are easy to follow or you may enjoy the opportunity to take out every dish in the kitchen.   Whether you are making a simple snack or a four-course meal we have found the cookbook that has it all.

Erich Hoffman who is one of Frederick High School’s many science teachers made that perfect cookbook a reality. Using a project assigned to him for his master’s degree that required him to build and create a school cookbook he did just that and more. His newest project called FHS Cookbook is a successful hit as the recipes inside don’t just consist of his own recipes. The FHS Cookbook consists of recipes contributed by both students and teachers of FHS. 

“Currently I am in a college class that focuses on supporting students of diverse cultures and languages. We had to come up with a project to complete this semester and I thought what better way to focus on the different backgrounds of students than to get everyone talking about food.” Mr. Hoffman said when asked what made him create this cookbook. 

“The main point of the project was to build a community at school around culture. As we all know we started the school year online and at first, had no idea how long that was going to last.”  He continued, “I know that being new to the school I felt very isolated those first weeks during online learning. I imagined so did many students. This project gave them the opportunity I hope to feel connected to others during these hard times of isolation. It also gave participants the opportunity to showcase their culture and to teach others about all the different cultures we have here at FHS.”  

One of the coolest things about this cookbook is that each recipe comes with a small explanation described through four questions. 

Those questions consisting of: 

  • Who would be at this special occasion?
  • Why is this dish special to you? 
  • Are there any family traditions that go along with the type of occasion that you would serve this dish at? 
  • What is one thing about your culture that you wish everyone knew? 

The questions were as stated by Mr. Hoffman 

“A way to get people talking about culture, to be proud of their culture, and to teach others about their culture. This gives others the opportunity to learn about the diversity within FHS and to get a chance to learn about a culture that may be different from their own.” He succeeded in that because throughout the cookbook readers will see that many people contributed recipes. Each one of those recipes comes with a different cultural background and an interesting story. 

One of the coolest things about the cookbook is the difference between this cookbook and other cookbooks. With most cookbooks, you’ll see that each recipe is typed out in a structured format and that it doesn’t necessarily vary from place to place. The FHS Cookbook, however, does the exact opposite. The FHS Cookbook goes against the norms of traditional cookbooks by having a variety of different recipes all displayed in their own unique way. Some recipes are typed, others are images of handwritten recipes, there are some with links, and others are simply screenshots of the recipe itself. 

While talking with Mr. Hoffman we learned the reason why all of the recipes weren’t typed out is because he compiled the recipes in the way they were submitted.  It’s cool to see. I love the whole aspect of it because to some readers like myself it may prove to them that even a cookbook can show how a unified community does not mean everyone is the same. Everyone is unique and has different cultures, values, beliefs, and ideas. 

“I wanted people to feel and know that we at FHS are a community even when we are all learning apart. It lets people see all these differences that we have as a community, but if you think about things, we are all very similar. Take for instance that I had responses from people of all different backgrounds and walks of life, but the vast majority of people when asked who would be at a special occasion that they would serve their dish at all responded with some degree of family. This just really highlights that yes we are all different but we have some very fundamental things in common.”  We learned while talking to Mr. Hoffman and asking him about this aspect of the book. 

The FHS Cookbook is definitely something to check out. With lots of amazing foods that make your mouth water just reading it and the fascinating stories alongside, this cookbook delivers lots of new recipes to try. I loved getting to look at this cookbook and getting to talk with Mr. Hoffman. It is apparent that after speaking with him and reading this cookbook I can say that he succeeded in his goal of bringing a community together. Great job Mr. Hoffman! I can’t wait to try out some of these recipes with my family.