I’m not a farmer, but… Former Pro and College Football Star Shares Food Memories from Around the World
Many Utahns will remember Chad Lewis from his prolific achievements on the football field both at Orem High School and Brigham Young University, and others still from playing in the Superbowl for the Philadelphia Eagles in the National Football League. After a successful playing career, Lewis is working in the Athletic Department administration for BYU and took time to share his memories of food.
Let’s start with some of the basics, where were you born?
I was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey
So that’s your hometown? Where else have you lived during your life?
A mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took me to Taiwan. I also live in Philadelphia and St. Louis while playing football.
Tell us about your family.
I have a beautiful wife who played volleyball at BYU, and we have seven kids. We have two married daughters (one of them now has a baby girl), and five boys. One is a missionary in Fresno, California. The younger four are still at home.
Tell me about your childhood. Do you have siblings? Where do you fit in your family?
I grew up in Orem, Utah as the fourth of five boys. I played a lot of sports including football, basketball, baseball, track, skiing, and biking. I was involved in scouts where I earned my Eagle Scout and spent quite a bit of time on hiking and camping adventures.
Were you raised on a farm or a ranch (or have a family that has any farming experience)?
I was not raised on a farm, but I did have a pet cocker spaniel growing up and we did occasionally have a hamster.
Did your family have a garden when you were growing up? And if so, what types of plants did you grow in their garden?
My back yard in Orem had seven apple trees that were leftover from a church welfare farm. We picked those apples every year. Some years we pressed the apples into the best juice you have ever tasted. Other years we made applesauce. We also planted tomatoes, but I did not develop a taste for a good tomato until I was in my 20’s. Now I love them!
Did you have favorite things to do as a child? Or things you hated doing?
I loved doing things with my family and friends. I didn’t necessarily like doing math homework growing up, so it was no surprise that I met and married a girl who taught math in high school! I was far from the perfect child growing up, but I enjoyed learning about history and English.
We know you played college and professional football for a time. Is that what you wanted to do when you were growing? Or what other interests do you have?
I have always loved football the most. I remember telling a counselor in Jr. High that I wanted to play in the NFL. She thought that was a stupid idea, but I am a firm believer in having a dream and working as hard as you can to chase that dream.
Please describe a typical workday for us now.
I am the associate athletic director over development at BYU. I have been running the fundraising team here for more than 10 years. I am also the sport administrator for BYU’s Swimming and Diving teams. I love BYU. It has been a joy to work here and help push forward the mission of this school.
You’ve lived in other places besides your current residence, are there things you liked to eat that reminded you of home?
I remember having potato salad for the 24th of July in Taiwan and that reminded me of home big-time. Eating a Philly cheesesteak reminds me of living in Philadelphia, and eating good BBQ reminds me of St. Louis.
Do you have a garden or raise any animals like chickens, cattle, etc.?
Right now, raising my boys is my top priority!
Do you have a favorite food?
My wife makes the greatest dinner of Polynesian chicken, rice, salad, and rolls that you can imagine.
How would you classify yourself from an eating standpoint? Are you an omnivore (someone who eats any and everything), an herbivore (someone who just eats plants), someone on a paleo diet (just meats and dairy products), or something else?
I am an omnivore. That is why I also try to ride my bike as much as possible.
Additionally, are you someone who eats because they have to? Or are you someone who eats because you love to eat?
I tried to keep my weight up my whole football playing career. And while I love food, I try not to overdo it.
As an athlete, what role did food play in how you trained?
I tried to stay as healthy and strong as I could. I would try my best to eat good food that was healthy for me. Athletes have taken it to a new level these days. It is cool to see their commitment.
Is there a restaurant in Utah you like to go to?
Sushi House in American Fork is my go-to date night on Friday night! Magleby’s, Bam Bam’s, Milagros, Nico’s Pizza, Station 22, Chick-Fil-A, Cupbop, J Dawgs, Cubby’s, and with that list I am just getting started.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?
Someone gave me some blood soup in Taiwan. I love Chinese food, but that one got me.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had? And why?
Valentine’s dinner at the White House in 2005. My wife and I were guests of George W. Bush for a state dinner after his second election. The setting was memorable, and the food was very nice.
What was the favorite meal/food you ate growing up? Or what food memories do you have from your childhood?
My Mom could make everything. Her pies, sweet rolls, and cookies are so good she could open her own bakery. She made a chicken and rice dish that was as good as anything I have ever had. She had a mean tater-tot casserole that still tastes as good as when I was a kid. I loved it all.
Describe to me your favorite kind of meal, something you eat on a fairly regular basis.
I love spaghetti, lasagna, steak with rice or potatoes, or even a turkey sandwich.
Do you like to cook or is someone else the main cook? If yes, what is your go-to meal/dish/recipe?
Michele is the main cook. I am so grateful for the time and effort it takes to put great dinners on the table for our family day after day. She cooks a steak that tastes better than any restaurant.
If you don’t want to cook anything fancy or elaborate, what is your basic comfort food you like to eat?
Steak with rice and green beans, or spaghetti with corn and bread.
Why do you love that so much?
Come to my house and you will find out!
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