Jonny Roscher is a team of one.
Equipped with a 6-foot propane grill and a Cajun burner, Roscher braves the elements in order to fuel John Force Racing with nutritious and delicious meals during race weekends.
Roscher will work his culinary expertise this weekend during the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
What’s on the menu? Walleye of course.
“I try to do as much local ingredients as I can,” said Roscher. “When we go to Minnesota I buy walleye. When we go to Reading (Pa.) I met this Amish farmer and he makes his own butter and yogurt and they actually raise a cow for me and butcher for me. We get prime rib and steaks off it and other things.
“As I go around I meet farmers and farm stands and it’s kind of cool to bring really fresh ingredients to the table.”
Roscher’s tables are always stocked with salads and this time of year tomatoes and sweet corn work well to make a good summer salad said Roscher. He likes to place two or three salads out for each meal. He also offers fruit and a lot of it instead of less nutritious options.
While he doesn’t have a particular favorite cuisine his daily mob of mechanics do have a few favorites.
“I love to cook all different styles of food,” said Roscher. “If you asked the guys what they want me to make it would be a buttermilk fried chicken. It’s pretty legendary in the pits. They would eat that every day. I do Asian food. I found a place in Denver that makes homemade egg roles so I’ll do Asian food in Denver. It’s seafood in San Francisco and Seattle. I can do pretty much whatever I want to do.
“I do enjoy this. I always look at it this way, I make championship food for a championship team. What’s really cool for me is, I’ve been here for eight years, and after I do a meal a lot of the guys still come to me and thank me. I’m never looking for that compliment, but for them to take the time to say thank you that makes me feel good and makes me strive to make the best food in the pits.”
The pits isn’t where Roscher’s 30-year career began. In fact, he owned four restaurants prior to his involvement in the NHRA. A New Yorker turned Californian, Roscher got tired of the restaurant business and started working at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. It was while working at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his career took a turn back to making good food.
“Someone told me John (Force) was looking for a guy,” Roscher said. “On a Monday, I was doing cleanup at the track and I just went over and interviewed with Bernie (Fedderly, John Force Crew Chief). They hired me on Thursday. The following Tuesday I was doing what I thought was kind of a trial thing and I haven’t been home since.”
Roscher first realized he wanted to be a chef by watching his grandmother, but not in the fairy tale way one might think.
“Both my grandmothers on mom’s and dad’s side of the family cook,” Roscher said. “Nothing fancy, but I remember my dad’s mom she was from Austria. She would come to visit and she would cook everything. When we were done eating she would grab a beer and sit in the Lazy Boy while my mom cleaned everything up. I always thought that was cool and that’s when I decided I was going to be a chef. You don’t have to do cleanup.”
Like his grandmother, Roscher cooks alone. He does all the shopping as soon as he gets into town and his goal is to throw nothing away. He does find time to test some of the local eateries. He’s visited Prairie Bay, Black Bear and Iven’s On The Bay. He said he always ends up at Zorbaz, but not necessarily for the food.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.