An 11-year-old celebrity cook who led a successful drive that raised more than $25,000 to improve the kitchen at his Auburn school was honored by the Placer County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
Mason Partak, a fifth-grader at Alta Vista Community Charter School, received a commemorative coin created for a county citizen-recognition program established by the board.
The board presented a second commemorative coin posthumously to Wally Reemelin, a man of many talents best known as co-founder and the long-time president of the League of Placer County Taxpayers. He passed away on Dec. 29 at age 96. Long-time friends Jerry Woods and Dan Sokol were on hand to accept Reemelin’s coin.
Both honorees were selected to be honored with commemorative coins by 5th District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery.
“Mason is someone who saw a need at his school and in his community and worked really diligently to fill that need,” she told the audience. “To me, this is a future hero, a future leader, in our community because he is already demonstrating these abilities right now.”
Of Reemelin, Supervisor Montgomery said, “He was really passionate about protecting the county, protecting your taxpayer dollars, my taxpayer dollars. On a personal note, he was funny, he was charming, he told great stories and I will miss him very much.”
The board created the commemorative coin program in 2002 to recognize acts of heroism, longstanding community service and exceptional acts that dramatically improved or impacted people’s lives.
The commemorative coins feature the county seal on one side. On the other side are the word “hero” and the image of an eagle with a star and sun rays in the background. The second side of the coin was designed by J. Randal Smith, an Auburn native who is a nationally known artist.
Mason is an accomplished cook who makes celebrity appearances at special events, teaches children to cook and competes against adults at cooking demonstrations and recipe contests.
Perhaps most impressive is his successful effort to raise funds to improve the kitchen at his school. In December, Mason and his supporters passed their $25,000 target.
When Mason started his crusade, the school’s kitchen did not have a stove or oven and the dishwasher did not work. He decided the school needed a fully functional kitchen that could serve hot, nutritious meals and be used as a classroom where students could learn to cook. The school, students, parents and community members joined the cause, which will allow the school to install a Food Science Lab where students will learn to cook with a culinary curriculum created by the school district and local chefs. At the end of each school year, the school will hold a special luncheon with food prepared by the students.
Mason began baking with his mom when two years old and has been wowing judges and audiences at cooking demonstrations and recipe contests since 2010. He often is the youngest contestant in recipe contests – and finds himself competing against adults who have at least 20 years more experience baking and cooking.
Nonetheless, he often places in the top three.
Last Thursday night, his chili recipe took the top prize at his school’s first annual chili cook-off in a competition that featured 16 entries.
Mason also teaches other children to cook. He uses You Tube videos to show kids how easy it is and has tutorials that teach specific techniques. His favorite is “What the heck is this thing for?” – a series that introduces kids to kitchen tools and demonstrates how to use them.
He appears at events such as the California State Fair, Mountain Mandarin Festival and Auburn Home Shows. One is his goals is becoming to first kid to have a cooking show on the Food Network.
A Meadow Vista resident, Reemelin was best known locally as a crusader for fiscal responsibility and transparency in government. He was a co-founder of the League of Placer County Taxpayers, its president and a frequent spokesman for the group on controversial issues.
Supervisor Montgomery emphasized that Reemelin never shied away from taking stands and facing criticism on controversial issues and was an outspoken advocate for the free-enterprise system.
Reemelin gave generously to community organizations and he and his wife created the Wallace and Marion Reemelin Chair in Free-Market Economics Trust at Hillside College. Their goal: assisting young people in broadening their knowledge of our country’s economics and educating future leaders.
Reemelin was a renowned architect, designer, civil engineer, inventor, pilot and entrepreneur who was a pioneer in A-frame building construction.
Born in Cincinnati in 1918, he moved to San Diego at age 9 with his mother and brother. Reemelin discovered a love for design and construction early in life, and by age 13 had designed a home for his parents. He earned his high school diploma in San Diego and a degree in architecture at UC Berkeley.
At age 30, he met his future bride, best friend, traveling companion and soul mate, Marion. They soon did everything together – including exploring incredible destinations all around the world. They were together until she passed away approximately 20 years ago.
Their travels brought the couple to Meadow Vista and Lake Combie, where they planned to build their dream home. Reemelin designed and built a one-of-a-kind home perched over the lake with pole structure engineering for earthquake safety and several forms of energy efficiency.