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Who’s Your Foodie?

Meet some of the foodies of Hormel Foods
By
  • Mary Burich

February 18, 2019

Category
Story

We have a close and deep relationship with our food. Even so, there are those with a passion beyond the norm. We call them gastronomes, gourmands, epicures and — more to the point — foodies. According to Merriam-Webster, they are people with an “ardent or refined interest” in food who seek “new food experiences as a hobby.” Perhaps Julia Child said it even better: “People who love to eat are always the best people.”

Let’s get to know a few of the Hormel Foods folks who have a special affinity for food.

Sebastian Friedman

Sebastian Friedman

Sebastian is a national category sales manager at the Corporate Office in Austin, Minn.

How did you become a foodie?

The foodie seed was planted in me as a boy. Constantly curious, I enjoyed experimenting and learning in the kitchen with my dad. Much later, I realized my dad is a terrible cook! Nonetheless, it was a way to connect with him and the people I made food for. There is no other feeling quite like serving to the people you love something that you made with your hands and your creativity. I consider myself extremely fortunate to work in an industry where I can do this on a broad scale.

What is your favorite food to eat or cook?

My current favorite food to cook (or attempt to cook) is Mexican. What the typical American knows about Mexican food only scratches the surface of this rich cuisine steeped in history and wonderfully delicious ingredients. I like experimenting with different kinds of dried chilies to create marinades, grilling sauces and toppings for different Mexican dishes. Four out of five of my attempts at making an authentic Mexican meal usually end in disaster. But that fifth one surprises even my wife, Nadia! I just remember, there’s nothing a little avocado can’t fix.

What’s the biggest food risk you ever took?

I would hunt frogs in the lake I lived on as a young boy, then marinate the legs and grill them. Then I would ask my mom if she wanted to eat the “chicken wings” I just made.

What is your favorite food trend right now?

I’m really into functional foods right now. The thought that food can heal and not just satiate intrigues me. The idea that eating something like healthy and delicious wild salmon for the healthy fats that will boost your immunity and athletic performance is fascinating to me. I usually try to eat balanced and clean meals with a heavy dose of protein.

If you could spend a day with a famous chef/fellow foodie, who would it be?

There is a chef in San Diego – Christine Rivera – who runs a taco restaurant called Galaxy Taco. She marches to the beat of her own drum and uses the heritage corn from different parts of Mexico that exhibit different flavors and textures. I’d love to learn from her for a day.

If you had to pick one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Tacos — they’re the cheeseburger of Mexico.

Brett Asleson

Brett Asleson

Brett is a Foodservice area manager at the San Francisco (Calif.) sales office.

How did you become a foodie?

I grew up in the foodservice industry, working as a cook, waiter and banquet server at a variety of restaurants. I love traveling and trying out local restaurants. Exploring new food experiences has always been a passion of mine.

What is your favorite food to eat or cook?

Breakfast is always a favorite to cook. I like to think I make a pretty mean eggs Benedict.

What’s the biggest food risk you ever took?

Lutefisk, no doubt in my mind.

What is your favorite food trend right now?

Grain bowls. I’m a big fan!

If you could spend a day with a famous chef/fellow foodie, who would it be?

Thomas Keller.

If you had to pick one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

My family’s goulash recipe.

Paul Atwater

Paul Atwater

Paul is a senior director of sales at Justin’s (Boulder, Colo.).

How did you become a foodie?

While I’ve always had an adventurous palate, it was travel — especially travel abroad — that expanded my culinary lens and sparked the interest. Specifically, it was during my final undergrad semester, which I spent in Spain, and the introduction to tapas (and wine!).

Since then, I’ve been on a mission to learn and experiment from a culinary perspective.

What is your favorite food to eat or cook?

I grew up outside of Houston, which has a heavy Creole influence. Consequently, my favorite thing to make and eat is seafood boil — particularly boiled crawfish — along with corn, potatoes, mushrooms, boudin and anything else you’d care to throw in there. The heat from the spice, counterbalanced with the pairing of an appropriate beer, is impossible to beat, in my humble opinion.

What’s the biggest food risk you ever took?

I ate an Emperor Scorpion in Beijing, a decision I regretted immediately and to this day.

To clarify, I ate smaller scorpions while there, which were fried, crunchy and quite tasty. The Emperor, however, remained largely intact from an entrails perspective, and I realized immediately after biting through the thick, hideous exoskeleton that the inside was even more unfortunate than the outside.

What is your favorite food trend right now?

I’m very excited about the allergy-friendly focus and evolution. As food allergies continue to grow exponentially year after year, there is now a fiscal opportunity within the industry to not just make safe foods available, but safe foods that taste as good — and sometimes better — than their equivalents. The creativity needed to recreate traditional food with nontraditional ingredients is not only interesting to observe, but as an allergy family, it’s creating options for us to build out our menu at home and provide a variety to my son (Luke) and daughter (Katy) that have been otherwise nonexistent until now.

If you could spend a day with a famous chef/fellow foodie, who would it be?

Fabio Viviani. Classically trained Italian/Mediterranean chef, restaurateur, winemaker and my all-time favorite “Top Chef” contestant.

If you had to pick one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

My wife, Sara, makes an amazing New Mexican-styled posole (aka pozole) that consists of hominy, shredded pork and fire-roasted Hatch green chile. One of my favorite dishes, one of the best comfort foods I’ve come across, and since Sara will likely end up reading this article, a wise selection by me.

Nathan Smit

Nate Smit

Nathan is an innovation manager at the Corporate Office (Austin, Minn.).

How did you become a foodie?

My first job out of college was at a facility that made hot dogs, summer sausage, chicken tenders and hot wings. Having all of that food around me was amazing. I was hooked.

What is your favorite food to eat or cook?

My favorite food is smoked venison kielbasa on a bed of hash browns. I make the kielbasa myself.

What’s the biggest food risk you ever took?

Eating a casserole of small birds in the Dominican Republic.

What is your favorite food trend right now?

I love the farm-to-table movement. I raise chickens and love the farm-fresh eggs.

If you could spend a day with a famous chef/fellow foodie, who would it be?

Andrew Zimmern because he gets to try the strangest foods around the world, and he’s from Minnesota.

If you had to pick one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pizza.

Paul Sheehan

Paul Sheehan

Paul is the director of industrial sales at Burke Marketing Corp. (Nevada, Iowa).

How did you become a foodie?

It goes back to my college days when I studied hotel and restaurant management at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. I spent a lot of time in kitchens and later operated restaurants for Walt Disney World. Today, I truly enjoy entertaining and cooking for friends.

What is your favorite food to eat or cook?

Beefsteaks and fish. I like to try to new preparation methods and flavor/sauce combinations.

What’s the biggest food risk you ever took?

I wasn’t very adventurous when I was younger. As I started to take risks, I realized there was more to life than meat and potatoes. Eel, snake, alligator and crickets are all things I have tried. If I can offer one piece of advice, it’s try new things when you have the opportunity.

What is your favorite food trend right now?

Street foods/food trucks, charcuterie, roasted cauliflower. Things change quickly in the food world. Travel offers the great opportunity to try new things and explore different food cultures.

It’s easy to use social media to explore and find unique offerings in areas that are unfamiliar. However, don’t overlook the opportunity to be spontaneous. Try the “hole in the wall” that can create awesome experiences.

If you could spend a day with a famous chef/fellow foodie, who would it be?

Hormel Foods Chef Tony Finnestad. He is the man!

If you had to pick one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Well-seasoned steak cooked perfectly to medium-rare. Simple and comforting.

Katie Lenway

Katie Lenway

Katie is a corporate recruiter at the Corporate Office (Austin, Minn.).

How did you become a foodie?

I grew up in Austin, Minn., so I think having a food company in my backyard contributed to my interest in food. My mom would sign me up for community education classes when I was a kid, and I always wanted to do the cooking classes. They would have us handwrite all the recipes, and we’d get to take home a recipe book at the end of the class.

What is your favorite food to eat or cook?

I have a love for desserts, so it’s definitely ice cream! My grandad had his own ice cream recipe that I grew up helping him make. We had an old-fashioned ice cream machine, and we would sit outside with it while it churned.

Luckily, by the time I started helping, we had an electric ice cream maker, but they used to crank it by hand. As I got older, I enjoyed experimenting with different flavors. We even made a stout-flavored ice cream at one point.

What’s the biggest food risk you ever took?

I didn’t do it knowingly, but last summer at an intern event hosted by the marketing teams, I ate a cookie that had cricket flour in it. That’s probably the strangest thing I’ve eaten.

What is your favorite food trend right now?

As a millennial, I have to admit, I love how easy it is to be connected to food trends around the world through Instagram and other social media apps. I can see what my friends are doing on the other side of the country, and what new foods they’re trying and making. It keeps me in the loop in smalltown Minnesota.

If you could spend a day with a famous chef/fellow foodie, who would it be?

Well, she’s not a chef, but Oprah’s garden is amazing. I’d love to spend a day with her, making food with fresh ingredients from her garden.

If you had to pick one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pizza. There are so many varieties, it would be hard to get bored. And I just really love pizza.

This article was featured in Issue VI of Inside Hormel Foods magazine. Click here to explore these unique collections of thought-provoking and heartwarming stories, recipes and features on our employees and the different areas of our company, all packaged up in a beautifully designed digital viewer for you.