Che Foster's teammates were the best critics a budding professional cook he could ever have.
“Those guys would definitely tell me if something was bad,” Foster said with a laugh. “So I figured if I could cook for those guys, then I could cook for just about anybody.”
Foster had no idea in 1990, when he was Parade All-American running back and The Oklahoman's High School Player of the Year out of Edmond, that the culinary arts would someday strip the football from of his hands forever. The one-time NFL hopeful, after an exceptional playing career at the University of Michigan, is now an executive sous chef for Crystal Garden catering in Howell, Mich.
“I've been blessed with something that I really want to do,” Foster said by telephone. “I get the same rush out of this as I did when I played football. When you have 1,200 people to cook for, it's like, ‘Hey, we've got to get this done and this done.' You really do get an adrenaline rush, because you've got to take care of all of those people.”
Foster was a 6-foot-3, 235-pound running back for Edmond, when the district still had one high school. He ran for 3,878 yards and 42 touchdowns over his junior and senior seasons. As a junior, Foster helped the Bulldogs win the Class 5A state championship in 1989 under coach Rick Jones. Foster was a big-time recruit who chose Michigan over UCLA, Georgia, Alabama and Miami.
Foster bulked up to 260 pounds and played fullback for three seasons at Michigan. He also panned up vittles for teammates, including roommate and future NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley.
Foster declared for the 1995 NFL Draft. Although he was not selected, he signed with Buffalo and lasted until the late cuts.
“The decisions I made — I have no regrets at all,” said Foster, who turns 40 on Wednesday. “I got my college degree, I got to play college football. And I'm getting to do now what I want to do. No regrets.”