Nancy Murphy A hidden gem

From the front of the school, take a right down the art hallway. Now take a left and you will have reached the cafeteria.

Despite the pandemic, the cafeteria has retained its alluring warmth, with its sleek blue and white checkered floor tiles and radiant flags of nations all across the world. For many students, the cafeteria is where they make their closest friends, cram for tests, eat breakfast after morning practices, and experience their first snack bar splurges during the freshman fifteen.

The cafeteria selection boasts a wide range of school wide favorites, from daily soups to pepperoni pizza and croissants to coffee, all tailored to the taste buds of students and teachers.

So, order a warm slice of Nancy’s Famous Apple Pie and a carton of milk, as we listen to Nancy Murphy’s story beyond the cafeteria cash register.

Before working at Wilton High School, Murphy had a long backstory of traveling.

"As soon as I graduated high school, I couldn’t wait to get out of Redding, CT. I met my husband in New York and we moved to Las Vegas for 10 years and then lived in Portland, Oregon for 10 years. By that time, my parents were getting elderly, and as an only child, I moved back closer to where my mom lives. I do have to say that I miss Portland and I'm probably heading back that way; it’s so beautiful and I love kayaking and going camping, it'll never change," Murphy said.

Murphy started learning to cook when she was 13, and her first real job in the kitchen started at 15. She always has and always will love cooking because it acts as a way for her to be creative.

"Cooking and baking are my creative outlets. I'm really good at walking into a kitchen and coming up with a meal by just seeing the ingredients,” Murphy said.

She grew up to work in many restaurants and experience endless things that will remain as cherished memories. While living in Las Vegas, Murphy faced many issues regarding females in the kitchen.

"After a long time of being told women weren't chefs, I got to Bertolini’s at The Forum Shops at Caesars and the assistant Chef said that he was going to give me a shot. It was an exhibition kitchen, where everyone can see what you’re doing," Murphy said.

"I was the risotto girl and the head Chef would often poke at it and scream 'Not good enough!' If he thought it was too thin or too thick, he would throw it at my head and I’d have to start over again. It got me really good at making risotto," Murphy said.

Murphy also shared experiences with many famous faces during her time in Las Vegas. At one of her jobs she shared a kitchen with Spago, Wolfgang Puck's restaurant, and she realized the genuity of people and their lives.

Murphy's experiences at Wilton High School though, make her very happy.

"I'm happy where I am," Murphy said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Murphy was one of few kept on the cafeteria staff. Because of the strict health regulations held by the Health Department, they've had to make less food and work to keep everything fresher for longer.

"Of course the biggest difference is that it's actually been easier for us because we have less to make. But I feel bad because you guys have fewer selections, since the health department makes all the rules for us, so we are unable to change their minds about things," Murphy said.

She's excited to get things back to normal and to be able to make some of her favorite foods again. Because as for now, the quiet silence in the cafeteria is some of the scariest noise.

"I tell you, the thing that creeps me out the most in the beginning of this. It was the silence. High School cafeterias should not be quiet, and listening to all these quiet kids was very strange and discomforting," Murphy said.

Going on from this, home life during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time, but thankfully getting back to normal because of the vaccines.

"My mother, fortunately, was able to get her vaccine as soon as they came out. I got really lucky and got her an appointment in advance, so I'm feeling better about that, but it was really hard not to be able to get close to her at first," Murphy said.

Murphy is one of the many hidden gems of Wilton High School, and high schools all around the country.

"I do have to say, I much more enjoy waiting on you guys than the general public," Murphy said.