Success Story: New culinary sports nutrition certificate traces its roots to Red Wings camp

registration starts March 13

March 6, 2024

NMC Culinary program student Mikaella Orlando

A new sports nutrition certificate positions NMC’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute among a select few schools offering students a specialty career path with a growing job market.

Starting this fall, the two-year certificate will train students to work as chefs for collegiate and professional sports teams. Its origin also connects to a Traverse City tradition: the Detroit Red Wings prospect and training camp held at Centre ICE Arena in the fall. GLCI has catered the camp for more than 10 years, and earned rave reviews.

“I’ve seen many training tables around the nation, as I am responsible for being a superfood hunter on the road. Some of the finest hotels in NYC, Chicago, LA, etc. cannot hold a candle to your team,” Red Wings performance dietitian Lisa McDowell said following the 2022 camp.

Julia Sheerin at the 2021 Red Wings training campGLCI instructor Julia Sheerin (right) was part of that team. Since 2018 she’s taught Nutrition for Culinary Arts, an introductory class. She’s created and will teach the new Sports Nutrition course for the certificate.

“There’s a need in the sports world for chefs that can cook in this manner,” said Sheerin, who’s also a clinical dietitian. Athletes have high calorie requirements and also specific macro and micronutrient needs.

“We would love to meet this need for chefs. It’s a more lucrative career option,” Sheerin said, adding that her interest in developing the certificate goes back to expanding choices for students. “I feel a dedication to try and make sure we meet the needs of our students.”

Past students have already inquired about returning for the certificate, Sheerin said, and interest is high among current students. McDowell agreed certificate graduates will see a strong job market.

“The demand for performance chefs is growing as more athletes are willing to invest in prolonging their careers by honing in on specific ingredients that help with recovery, performance and injury healing. I have worked with other sports chef programs and can confirm this leads to stellar recruits and future star chefs.

The certificate includes a one-semester internship. Its creation also satisfies part of NMC’s strategic plan for the Great Lakes Culinary Institute.

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