The East Vision

Michael Duba, head cook and restaurant owner

Madeline VanGessel, Staff Writer

If you have ever eaten food from the cafeteria you know that the delectable food is thanks to Head Cook, Michael Duba. But you may not know that Duba is a former restaurant owner and cook. Duba has brought his talents and his love for creativity to our high school in the kitchen.

Duba grew up in the restaurant business alongside his father who owned The Rocket Bar.

“My father had a restaurant so I knew the business and started out by sorting bottles when I was young,” Duba said. “I was also setting up banquets, cleaning, washing tables, and bussing at my father’s restaurant in the 1960s.”

Although Duba never had an interest in becoming a cook, let alone joining the restaurant business, his cooking career started off at a young age.

“I was in college and trying to get into the fish and game department because I loved being outside and working my way through college,” Duba said.

Never did Duba think that he would have ended up in the restaurant business for the rest of his life, especially because he never received an education for it and was primarily self-taught.

“I started cooking and before I knew it I was married and had kids. That was when everything changed. I never went to school to be a chef. The closest I came to being a chef was when I was a part of the Junior Chefs Association,” Duba said.

Alongside his two brothers and sister, he renovated and added three additions to his father’s restaurant on the West Side, which they eventually sold in 1989.

“In 1990 we built the new restaurant on the East Beltline,” Duba said. “We were there for about 15 years until we sold the property and I came to work for East Grand Rapids.”

After selling the steak and seafood restaurant, he thought that at some point he would return to the business, but since coming to East Grand Rapids he hasn’t had much of an interest in it.

The restaurant is no longer open, but many of the people who ate at Duba’s are still wondering about his Sweet Pepper Crab soup and what the recipe entailed. Luckily Duba has revealed his secret in writing, allowing people to carry on his tradition in their own homes.

In the kitchen’s cafeteria, Duba isn’t given many opportunities to create recipes and different meals. His job mostly entails warming the food up that is sent to the school through food services. Many days the food’s taste that is delivered to the cafeteria could almost be considered inedible, but Duba always makes it taste flavorful enough that our students can appreciate his unique cooking skill.

Not only do the students notice Duba’s efforts, but so do the staff.

Heather McKinney, whose parents used to dine at Duba’s Restaurant each year for their anniversary, said, “Mr. Duba is a humble and hard working man that tries his best to provide quality food for our students.”

With recent changes in laws to nutritional standards at schools in the United States, McKinney feels that Duba’s creativity is being limited. However, Duba still tries to express his skills in the way he once was able to.

Next time you are walking past the cafeteria make sure to stop by and say hello to Mr. Duba as well as take a taste of some of the food he has cooked up.

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