Graduate Spotlight: Chef Rachel Hogan

ntischool Blog

Share this Post

Chef Rachel Hogan graduated from the Natural Foods Chef Program in 2013. Rachel’s culinary specialties include preparing wild game and fish. She was recently featured in Hunt & Fish Magazine. Rachel was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2008 and has used her nutritional knowledge to help herself heal. Below is our interview with Chef Rachel.

What made you decide to become a chef?

I’ve always loved cooking and found the experience of feeding people very gratifying. Food is a wonderful and personal way to show love. After becoming seriously ill with Lyme disease and having to battle for my health and my very life, I became fully aware of how important delicious and healthy food is. When you are sick, you can become so isolated. Food allows humans the freedom to connect and be. So even on my worst days, when I struggled to find the strength to even sit up, if I could share a bite of food with someone, in that moment I was a person. I wasn’t “my disease”, I wasn’t broken or a patient- I had freedom in that moment. I could just be human.

Throughout treatment, I struggled to get food down, and nutrition in. Many medications make it hard to eat. So, I wanted to learn how to make comforting, soul feeding food that was nutritious and satisfying. That’s when I decided to become a chef.

How did you get involved in the hunting and fishing world?

I am one of 4 children, with 3 brothers. Hunting, fishing and outdoor activities were a part of life. I went along because I didn’t want to be left out. Ironically, I am now the most avid outdoors person in my family! I love being outside and connecting with nature. I’m very active and involved with field-bred English Springer Spaniels. My love of participating with these magnificent animals has opened new doors and really caused me to look the amazing benefits of utilizing game meat. Wild game is lean, antibiotic free, an excellent source of protein and very delicious. For healthy eating and nutrition, wild game is a fantastic choice. I think people are often just inhibited by the unknown. Game meat seems scary because it is unfamiliar. I challenge people to open themselves up to trying wild game as a healthy and delicious option!

Tell us about the work you do at Pine Shadows Daybreak Lodge.

I am executive chef at Pine Shadows Daybreak. We are an Orvis endorsed wingshooting preserve and lodge. My duties run the gambit. I do everything from working as a pastry chef, kitchen manager, hospitality director, hunting guide, housekeeper, pheasant cleaner and processor, menu planner and the person in charge executing (and sometimes transporting) the menu on time. This is the early morning hot pastry, full breakfast, lunch and house made treat, appetizer, dinner and a dessert. The schedule is INTENSE! But, I love every minute of it! South Dakota is stunningly beautiful. I feel so blessed to be able to combine my passion for cooking and the outdoors into such a special place and career.

Based on your personal experience, what tips do you have for people who have Lyme disease?

Reduce inflammation!!! Lyme Disease causes tons of inflammation and chronic pain. Try to make dietary changes to keep inflammation down. Removing sugar, gluten and dairy has really been helpful in reducing my pain levels. While there are many other factors, a reduction in pain can help free up your body to relax and focus on healing.

Exercise! This sounds counterintuitive when you don’t have the energy to sit up. Get help. Have someone facilitate movement for you. Do gentle exercises as you can. Trust yourself and know your limits. Don’t overdo it.

Stimulate your mind! When you aren’t able to work or produce in your own life, it seems selfish to take care of yourself. But, it is vital. Recovery needs a healthy mind. Do what gives you joy when you can.

Be persistent! Lyme disease recovery is long and individual to each patient. Be willing to try new things, keep researching treatment options and never give up. The road can be long, but there is hope.

Do you have a few tips you can share with us on cooking game meat?

Fat is your friend! Game meat is lean. Remember that when you choose your cooking method and pairing, don’t be afraid of adding an organic egg yolk to ground meat, utilize nitrate free bacon to add protection when roasting or braise low and slow. Game meat is a great substitution for conventional proteins. Don’t be afraid to experiment and switch things up!


Share this Post