Ankeny Teen’s High School Project Features Local Bizarre Foods


ANKENY, Iowa – Shark fingers and sea urchin here in Iowa? Who knew?

Ella McLaughlin hopes more people will soon, thanks to her series focused on local bizarre foods.

“A lot of people are surprised that these items are right in Des Moines and Ankeny,” says McLaghlin. “And it really interests them to see the different types of food and just the ambiance that each restaurant brings.”

The 2020 Ankeny Centennial High School graduate visited four metro restaurants and feature four unique food offerings.

“The first place we went was Wisco Grub and Pub in Des Moines and there our host tried shark tenders. After that we went and we had halo-halo at Lola’s kitchen, which is a treat from the Philippines. Then we had sea urchin at Wasabi and finally we had the Jethro’s Emmenecker burger.”

And she got to call the shots.

“My role was directing the set and contacting the businesses,” says McLaughlin. “I had help from mentors for finding these businesses and after I contacted them we got to sit down and plan our set and then after the shooting was done I got to home and edit it all.”

It’s all part of a school project through the Orbis college and career readiness program.

“It was a one shot, you had one chance and that’s not the type of environment I’ve been working with,” shared McLaughlin. “And the editing process, same thing. I had to learn so many new tricks. And work with business professionals. I had never been emailing or calling with people in what I call the real world outside of high school and it just reassured me that I’m ready to go into media.”

A passion never she never anticipated, and just stumbled upon in school.

“I signed up for video class on accident. I wanted to take a podcasting class and that’s what I thought it was. Suddenly I loved being in charge of cameras and the editing process after and finding all the different angles and it ended up working perfectly with what I wanted to do.”

So as McLaughlin heads to Bethel University in the Twin Cities this fall, the sky is the limit. But her hope is that folks back home will try some new thigs in their own back yards.

“As restaurants are reopening it’s a great opportunity, I was just ordering from Wasabi the other night, it’s a great time when you’re sitting at home to just see what’s around you for restaurants or any other thing.”


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