The Gilbert Community School District is thrilled to welcome Tace Clarke to our team as the new Director of Food Service.
Chef Clarke got right to work at each of the four buildings last week. She replaces Deb Purcell, who served in the role for more than five years before her retirement last week.
Previously the Food Service Director at Baxter Schools, Chef Clarke comes to Gilbert with more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant and food service industry. She says she has a friend to thank for pointing her in Gilbert’s direction.
“I actually had a close friend who worked here as a long-term (substitute teacher) and I asked her what she thought of Gilbert. She said the processes and routines and families were incredible, and she really sold it for me,” Chef Clarke said. “The opportunity to have multiple buildings and be able to grow a program in a growing community at a school like Gilbert that has a reputation for excellence, it’s just fantastic.”
Chef Clarke grew up just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and began her culinary career in Little Italy, Baltimore where she learned under well-respected chefs on the east coast.
She moved to Iowa a decade ago to serve as the Regional Operational Lead at Life Time Athletic in Des Moines. She eventually took over as the Associate Director of Food Service at Grinnell College and then moved into a leading role at Baxter Schools, where she was in her third year before accepting the position at Gilbert.
Chef Clarke says the move to Iowa has been all she and her family had hoped for when they made the decision.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “My parents moved out from Maryland about two yeas ago … we love it here.”
Chef Clarke is excited to get to work with her new Gilbert CSD staff and put her plan in place.
“I love being able to teach the cooking to my team,” she said. “I love homemade cooking from scratch and I’d like to move in that direction instead of processed ingredients. That’s not a tomorrow thing, but the goal is to start that one day a week and go from there.”
Dr. Christine Trujillo, the Superintendent of Gilbert Schools, sees the passion and enthusiasm Chef Clarke brings to her department, and is excited to see her become a leader in the district.
“Chef Clarke brings a new and exciting energy to the nutrition department,” Dr. Trujillo said. “I look forward to watching her creativity come alive in the kitchen for our children.”
Chef Clarke and her husband, William, have two young children: Liam, 8, and McKenna, 5. William is also a former chef and currently serves as an EMT and firefighter. Liam, a second grader, and McKenna, who is in kindergarten, attend school in the West Marshall Community School District.
An avid equestrian, Chef Clarke and her family live on a farm where they all spend quality time riding.
“Before getting into the culinary world, I actually rode for many years,” Chef Clarke said. “Now I just do it for fun. We all ride and just have fun with it.”
Dr. Trujillo also wanted to thank Ms. Purcell for her commitment to Gilbert CSD during her years as the Food Service Director.
“I’m so grateful to Deb for her hard work and dedication in the area of nutrition for Gilbert students,” Dr. Trujillo said. “We wish her nothing but the best in retirement.”