Rick Renteria displayed one of his favorite non-baseball hobbies as he cooked for a group of local high school students on Wednesday morning.
The dish, queso fundido, is one of several the new White Sox manager also plans to prepare meals for his coaching staff at spring training next month in Glendale, Ariz. Renteria will also host a cooking demonstration at SoxFest on Sunday.
Renteria, who spoke with students at Benito Juarez Community Academy while signing autographs and posing for photos, said he’s excited to help prepare some of the team’s newly acquired talent for their eventual promotions to the majors. The White Sox have invited each of their top eight prospects (according to MLB.com) to big-league camp, including infielder Yoan Moncada and pitchers Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.
"We acquired some top-notch talent," Renteria said. "It’s incumbent upon us as White Sox now to put the structure together, see if we can move them forward. There is a large process of developing players. In the end, again, we have to be White Sox first. Their purpose should be to bring a championship to the White Sox first and foremost and from that stems everything else."
Renteria wore a chef's hat as he prepared the cheesy, spicy dish in front of the vocational school's baseball team and select culinary students. He also often cooks carne asada and rice and beans at family gatherings. Renteria cooked for the White Sox coaching staff last spring to bring them all together and said he intends to do so again this year.
Ricky is at Benito Juarez Community Academy showing off his cooking skills to the culinary class. pic.twitter.com/FSEmRulWmM— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) January 25, 2017
While he prepared the food, Renteria spoke to students about having passion for their dreams. He also fielded questions about his path to the majors and advised students to have perspective and balance.
"More than anything, encourage them," Renteria said. "I don’t think they can consume themselves in a lot of the things that are being put out there. … I hope I was able to encourage them and show them they’re OK. They’re all right."
"It's always emotional. I like to let them know that anything is possible." — Renteria on meeting the high school students at Benito Juarez pic.twitter.com/ZhqYRH9wIo— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) January 25, 2017
Jennifer Orozco, a senior in the school’s culinary program, said Renteria’s dish was "amazing." Orozco, who coaches T-ball at nearby Harrison Park, is a diehard White Sox fan. Even though invitations to the event were limited, Orozco made sure she attended. She enjoyed discovering that she and Renteria had a similar passion off the field.
"It was super exciting because I’m a diehard Sox fan," Orozco said. "When my chef told me he was going to come here I was super excited. They weren't letting a lot of people go. It was the baseball team. But I was like, "I really want to go. I want to meet him." It was kind of a dream come true.
(The dish) was amazing. The cheese was so gooey and the meat was perfect."