Chefs who make a difference

These 10 chefs are influential not only in their operations but their communities as well.

Thomas Sacksteder
Executive Chef
Gunderson healthcare
La Crosse, Wis.

Why Chef Thomas?
According to Kerry Johnson, school nutrition director for the School District of Onalaska, Wis.:

“In addition to his duties at the hospital, Chef Thomas has made numerous contributions to communities in La Crosse County. As the chef for the countywide Farm to School Program, Chef Thomas has impacted more students than I can mention. He holds student cooking classes and presentations at local elementary schools to encourage students to try new foods and consume more fruits and vegetables. This year, classes were held in West Salem, Bangor, La Crosse, Holmen and Onalaska schools, all of which have several sites and classes. His enthusiasm is contagious for staff and students alike, and he has left an impression on many to strive to eat healthier and live a better life. In addition, when the school year ended this year, students in our county went home with The Chef Thomas Bean Challenge. This is a package of beans and instructions for students to grow their own plants over the summer and come back to school in the fall with a photo, paper or any presentation about their experience. Chef Thomas is an amazing chef, community member, and mentor for children and adults in our area.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

Ideas and Innovation
kale quinoa salad

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette; kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing; and leek soup with pickled cucumbers, to name a few.

FSD Resources