Chefs’ favorite energy-boosting snacks

Dana Moran, Managing Editor

healthy snacks

This month, FoodService Director added some fresh faces to the veterans on our Chefs’ Council, a 50-member panel of in-the-know folks from across the noncommercial industry. While we’ll introduce you to the full group in the October issue of FSD, we first checked in to uncover the favorite snacks that help them power through the workday.

The coffee crew

coffee beans

Who needs a bite? These chefs rely on caffeinated beverages—for the most part.

“Other than the always available and mandatory coffee (or espresso), I like to reach for apples,” says Jeff Muldrow, executive chef at The Mather retirement community in Evanston, Ill. “My favorites are Arkansas Black, Candy Crisp and the Kandil Snap, but any apple will do in a pinch.”

“Is black coffee legit?” asks Shawn Noack, food and beverage director at Morningside Retirement in Fullerton, Calif.

Meanwhile, Shep Drinkwater, executive chef at Vi at Bentley Village in Naples, Fla., says he turns to good tea for a boost.

Hitting the trail mix

trail mix

This snack works well for many folks because it’s easy to customize. Stephanie Dyehouse, assistant food service supervisor of culinary development at Cincinnati Public Schools in Ohio, sticks with mixed nuts and dried fruit, while Bill Claypool, assistant director and executive chef at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, goes straight for calorie-packed GORP with M&Ms (“That’s ‘good ol’ raisins and peanuts’ if you are uninitiated,” he says).

Darla Mehrkens, catering manager at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Va., took her trail mix to the next level. “My daughter was a swimmer, so having snacks that met her crazy schedule was important. After much thought and taking into consideration her favorite foods, I made a trail mix croissant that she could pack and have anytime of the day,” Mehrkens says. “I took croissant dough and pressed sunflower seeds, pepitas and pistachios into the dough. The filling was [dried cranberries], dried apricots and dried blueberries that I processed with Greek yogurt.”

Cheese, please


Though Winsight Foodservice Group Editorial Director Kelly Killian openly hates cheese, it’s popular among these chefs. Brent Trudeau, executive chef and production manager at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Houston, likes his string cheese with fresh pineapple, while Rocky Dunnam, chef at Elizabeth Jane Bivins Culinary Center and Nineteen49 Catering in Texas, has been leaning toward caprese salad—sliced tomato and mozzarella—of late.

Bill Laychur, corporate executive chef at Pennsylvania State University in State College, adapts elements of a cheese and charcuterie board he had at a high-end restaurant for his go-to snack of dried fruit, nuts and—the piece de resistance—a bit of local honey.

Go nuts


Almonds and pistachios are a prime snack for Executive Chef Adam Smith of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, along with blueberries, apples and bananas. Good old-fashioned apples with peanut butter are a favorite for both Christopher Studtmann, district executive chef at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and David Leach, executive chef at University of Wisconsin at Stout.

Vince Scimone, child nutrition director at Grossmont Union High School District in La Mesa, Calif., names a slightly more off-the-wall combination. “My favorite snack booster is purple dragon fruit and cashews,” he says. “I grow two types of dragon fruit in my backyard. ” Scimone notes the fruit’s health properties and vitamin C content as contributing factors to its snack food perfection.

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