Meet the New Food Director from Creede: DJ Fredman
DJ Fredman always knew he wanted to live in the Rockies. An avid outdoorsman, he moved to Colorado to hunt, fish, and guide – until he found Creede. Originally from Shepherdstown, West Virginia, DJ has spent most of his life in food service, working at the 4 Diamond Bavarian Inn in Washington D.C. and training under global Master Chef Wolfgang Vomend. Although he studied Environmental Studies and Research Management at Shepherds University, his cooking background sparked an insatiable need to love what you do, and for DJ it was making and serving people great food. He’s drawn to it by what food can do to bring people together, and how he is “always learning something new even though it seems everything has been done before.”
For DJ, Creede was a serendipitous place to thrive. He says it feels as though “time is on a pause button, where everything is the same, a little slower, and consistent.” While it is a change of pace from working in D.C., DJ says the community is what he loves most. Anytime there is a problem, the town is still supportive even though he did not grow up there; everyone has a community mentality and depends on each other. The community is what made DJ stay, and it is where he met his wife.
Starting in August 2021, DJ has seen that a lot of children are structured in a contemporary American cuisine, and he has a vision to introduce students to dishes from other countries. He believes “food is the most basic level of communication and connection and can bring anyone and everyone together in ways they can relate” so he wants to help students from all cultures and backgrounds connect through the shared knowledge of each other’s traditional dishes. For this reason, DJ is also adamant about helping the farm-to-school program flourish in Creede. His hope for the lunch program is to see students try different foods, learn about nutrition, and develop healthy eating habits. Since they are in their formative years, developing healthy eating habits and a broader horizon when it comes to food are crucial to closing the gap between the source and the consumer. DJ says that he feels a responsibility to society to teach them about manners and healthy eating to help future generations and infrastructures of this country. Having students learn about where their food comes from, how it is made, and what ingredients are produced locally is vital to his mission.
The vision for Creede is to “take simple things and make them magnificent” when it comes to food. DJ wants to expand children’s palates and change their perspectives on what foods can be by introducing spices, variety, and fun spins to dishes they may not be familiar with. For DJ, there have been a few challenges in working to achieve this goal, mostly in transitioning to cooking in an open kitchen with children and in learning to work with government standards for schools. However, DJ is enthusiastic about his role and is receiving
While serving between 80-100 K-12 students on average, DJ is focusing on listening to them as a starting point for creating the menus and figuring out where there may be more flexibility with trying new things. He says that nine out of ten the students express their gratitude for making something new even if they do not like it the first time, and their appreciation is encouraging for the food service staff. According to DJ, there’s no rhyme or reason to the healthier options kids seem to like, but they range from balsamic glaze (a big hit) to Harira, a spiced North African stew.
More than anything, DJ wants to impress upon the students that there is an array of foods to try and that they should put thought into what they eat, especially when it is scratch-made and locally sourced like it is at Creede. Additionally, he wants the students to take what they learn about food home so parents can make a quick, wholesome family meal with few ingredients, and feel confident that their kids will like it because they have already had it at school. He hopes that he can inspire kids to tell parents what healthy foods they like, and not feel stigmatized by anyone about choosing healthy snacks that may not be as popular. There is nothing but the kid’s best interest in mind at Creede. “It’s all about the big picture when it comes to these kids, food, and the future.”
DJ works closely with Creede’s Food Service Director, Malcolm Sneede, who has been at the forefront of scratch cooking and local food procurement in Colorado. Malcolm is thrilled to have DJ working with him in supporting the Creede community. According to Malcolm, “DJ has the drive, knowledge, and experience to help me continue to keep the Creede’s food service program top notch. Together we are prepared to serve delicious, healthy, and informative lunches
to the children of our community.”