By Robert Lucke
For the past three years, 23-year-old Becky Toth has been on one grand adventure, an adventure that started years ago with her love of cooking.
"I would go to both of my grandmothers' houses even when I was little and bake cakes and things like that," Toth said.
During her high school years and maybe even before, Toth baked hundreds of sugar cookies for the children of Van Orsdel United Methodist Church to decorate around Christmas time.
When Toth graduated from high school, she looked into cooking schools. Few existed, and those that did, had long waiting lists.
So she attended Montana State University-Northern for two years majoring in education.
Then one fateful day, she was in Missoula attending a Grizzly-Bobcat football game.
"While I was in Missoula, someone told me there was a cooking school at the Missoula Vo-Tech school," she said. "I checked into it and was told there was a five-year waiting list."
Toth applied, and what she expected to be a five-year wait turned into a five-month wait. She was accepted into the school in March 1999.
Toth found the two-year course interesting and intensive. The first year was divided into culinary arts, where students spent the entire year cooking in various stations, including dining room, hot line, and meats and vegetables.
"I liked party and desserts best, but I learned so much from all of them," Toth said. "Like in soups and sauces, we learned to make one sauce and turn it into 20 sauces."
Along with the culinary school was a restaurant where students got hands on experience in planning, preparation, cooking and serving.
"I soon got sick of eating all that food," she said. "It is the chefs who love to eat. A lot of them are very large."
That first summer, instead of coming back to Havre for her vacation, Toth enrolled in an intensive, three-month baking course.
Twenty students and two professors baked from 6 a.m. to noon every day in a kitchen without air conditioning. It was so hot, Toth said she figures she could survive in any climate.
"I loved the baking school. Like in pies, no two crusts could come out of the oven looking the same so I got to be very creative. That was fun," she said.
Toth's second year at the culinary school was spent in management classes like purchasing food, sanitation, and beverage management. It also included culinary computer classes where students designed and printed a cookbook. Toth's was called, "Baker Becky's Baker Book."
Toth graduated in May 2001, and before she knew it, folks from Disney World in Orlando, Fla. were approaching her to do a six-month internship in one of their theme restaurants.
She was chosen to work in the Disney Polynesian Resort where they feature Hawaiian type food in two restaurants.
"That couldn't be any further for a girl from Montana to go than to cook in a Hawaiian type restaurant," Toth said, laughing. "But when I got there I really enjoyed it."
Disney ran an apartment complex for their college interns live, so the six months passed quickly, Toth said.
College students, like Disney regulars, are never employees.
"We were not employees. We were always referred to as the cast. We even had costumes to wear," said Toth. "And the tourists who come to Disney World are not tourists, they are guests."
Toth came back to Havre on Jan. 10, 2002. She was barely settled when Disney World called and offered her a permanent job in the same resort that she interned.
So Toth has packed and is on her way back to Disney World to show just how good a girl from Montana can cook Polynesian food.
Best thing about her remarkable odyssey so far?
"That's easy. It is all the great people I have met," she said. Why I even went to a Green Bay Packers game."
Green Bay is Toth's team. She said the day she saw (Packer quarterback) Brett Favre, he was really on.
If there is a downside, it's that she is far away from Havre and her family and friends.
But who knows where this journey will lead Toth next. Maybe next year at this time she will be cooking for the Packers.