When Joe Burrow says thank you, he covers the whole spread. As the world watched Burrow receive the Heisman Trophy and LSU crowned an undefeated season with a national championship, the winning quarterback recognized all the people who made the trifecta season possible, many of whom work behind the scenes.
While the confetti cascaded, the announcement heard around the world was music to chef Michael Johnson’s ears. His friends and colleagues far and wide also noticed. “My phone blew up when everybody heard him say thank you to the chefs and caterers,” Johnson recalls. “I was emotional. It was a really powerful moment. All the energy and investment that we put into it being recognized right there live in front of you. I’m tearing up right now thinking about it.”
“Chef Mike” joined LSU as the executive chef of the Performance Nutrition Center just before the ribbon cutting of the renovated Football Operations Center, which features a state-of-the-art dining hall for student athletes. Working in partnership with another newcomer, registered dietitian and director of football nutrition Zach Bennett, Johnson is passionate about feeding athletes. It is exponentially more than serving three meals a day.
“It’s a balance,” Johnson says. “Provide exceptionally nutritious foods that are comfortable for them. Good tasting with healthier results. Three times a day we have an opportunity for our team to be creative. I love coming to work every day. We have a committed staff who want to support the health of the students. It speaks volumes to the culture of LSU.”
Read on for the rest of the story of how Chef Mike keeps student athletes happy with nutritious food. This story originally appeared in inRegister‘s September 2020 issue.