“Skills include the ability to swim and run fast.” Of all the job descriptions that Chef Josh had encountered in his extensive career, from restaurants to catering and private chef engagements, this was a first! “I just had to find out what this position was all about, and when I learned I could use my skills for such a great cause, I jumped right in!”
Becoming the Chimpanzee Chef at Save the Chimps brought Chef Josh full circle to his roots. “I grew up in the Ozarks, so wildlife and outdoors living-camping, exploring, and visits to my grandfather’s farms-was a huge part of my childhood.” Coming here gave him the opportunity to apply his culinary school training and lengthy experience to a unique challenge: designing and preparing a menu to keep 220 chimpanzees well-nourished and healthy year-round. “Chimps require lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and legume-based proteins,” he notes. Breakfast typically features a fresh fruit like apple or pear and two vegetables, such as celery and tomato. Lunch pairs other fruits and veggies with a leafy green and regular dinner fare features banana and “chow,” a nutrient-rich protein-packed biscuit. This standard menu is customized to unique dietary needs of residents with diabetes or food allergies. “I try to source different produce weekly despite supply issues and rising costs because any diet, human or chimpanzee, thrives on variety,” he notes.
Chef Josh also has a wish list of modern production kitchen equipment to further enhance productivity and creativity, but Chef Josh knows that he and his co-workers (“My staff is amazing!”) are giving residents the most nutrition possible with the resources they have. “Dr. Andrew (Director of Chimpanzee Care) has said ‘these chimps are eating better than any others in the world’—and this inspires our creativity to benefit our incredible residents every day.”