Occupation: Food Services Director at Tremont
Family: Married to Rachel for six years. They have two boys: Miles, 6, and Eson, 4.
Steve Foster and his crew are the fun guys at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Foster is the new Food Service director at Tremont.
“It’s a fun place to work. Most of time we’re interacting with children, and they’re pretty fun,” he said. “Teachers have to be serious. The kitchen staff gets to be more playful and joke around with them. I give them their desserts, so they’re extra nice to me.”
Foster is in charge of all the food preparation as well as ordering and making the menu. He has a crew of five or six, depending on the time of year.
The food service director said he has ties to the community around Tremont. “Part of the reason I enjoy this job is it’s the Walker Valley. I’m a 10th generation Walker,” he said. “My family is from there. I found out when I started that one of the ladies in the kitchen is my cousin. I was born and raised in Maryville.”
Foster is no rookie to running a commercial kitchen. “I don’t come from an institutional background. I look at it more as a restaurant that happens to be in an institution,” he said.
After graduating from Maryville High School in 1989, Foster worked at several restaurants in Knoxville while at the University of Tennessee, serving as kitchen manager for several. He took a hiatus from the kitchen for eight years and worked in the family commercial painting business before being hired on as food services director at Tremont in spring of 2008.
Foster said he enjoys his commute to work. “It’s a nice place to work. The drive to work is long, but I don’t mind it in the least,” he said. “I usually catch up on my NPR radio.”
Foster said the toughest part of the job trying to figure out what vegetables the student will eat.
“Kids are very picky, especially away from home. Finding good recipes kids will eat is the toughest,” he said. “Most of the vegetables don’t get eaten, but we offer them anyway.”
Preparing food for youngsters isn’t Foster’s team’s only job. They often host “fancier” functions for adults like Leadership Blount classes, the Tremont Legacy Foundation and Experience Your Smokies classes. “We do everything from bacon-wrapped shrimp to lobster artichoke dip,” he said. “I get to use different cooking skills. It’s nice to flex my cooking muscles.”
25 Random Things About Steve Foster
1. I’ve played disc golf for almost 14 years.
2. My first job was as an actor in the Smoky Mountain Passion Play when I was 14. I did it for 3 summers and as the company stunt double my last year, I was flogged, beaten, hanged and crucified.
3. I don’t really like cakes or pies or chocolate.
4. I’ve played guitar for 18 years. The first song I learned was “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction.
5. The first time I ever voted, I wrote in Weird Al for president.
6. As a kid, I wanted to be just like either Lynn Swann or Bo Duke.
7. My first date was a trip to Dogwood Theater in Midland Center. We saw “Flash” with the cool/awful soundtrack by Queen.
8. I once ate a watch battery on a dare.
9. I have collected comic books, concert posters, actions figures, Hot Wheels, Van’s shoes, hot sauce, beer bottles, KISS cards, Frisbees and cookbooks, just to name a few.
10. I love Gene Kelly movies. I have seen “Singin’ in the Rain” more times than a sane man should.
11. I have never seen “Rocky.”
12. I lettered in soccer at Maryville High School.
13. My favorite comedian is Bill Hicks, though he is dead now. Also George Carlin was a genius.
14. I have always secretly wanted to be from Canada.
15. In my younger skinnier days, I was paid to model underwear. I still have a couple of pics from the shoot but am going to go home and burn them today.
16. My favorite restaurant ever is Dyer’s in Memphis...deep-fried burgers.
17. I once owned a pleather Michael Jackson jacket -- the kind from “Thriller,” not the “Beat It” zippered one.
18. Nine is my lucky number and always has been but I can’t remember why.
19. I have been an art major, a broadcasting major, undeclared and a video production major at various universities/colleges.
20. My all time favorite saying is: Don’t just eat a hamburger: Eat the hell out of it.
21. In high school, I had a parent-teacher meeting concerning my right to have a “mullet” and play high school soccer.
22. My favorite secret ingredient: Sri Racha hot sauce
23. My first concert was Night Ranger in 1984 at the Civic Coliseum. I hate to admit it, but it totally rocked.
24. I organized and ran a two-day disc golf marathon to raise money for Lance Armstrong’s Peleton foundation. It was the first tournament held at Knoxville’s Victor Ashe disc golf course, and we raised over $2,000 dollars. I personally played over 150 holes of disc golf that weekend.
25. I do not believe in ghosts, aliens, Big Foot or any other such nonsense.