From Lasalle High School to the military, local restaurant’s GM learned to cook everywhere

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MISHAWAKA, Ind.— Clyde Foster first dabbled in cooking during his home economics classes at Lasalle High School in the 1980s.

“That was my introduction to cooking,” Foster said.

A month after Foster graduated from high school, he joined the military.

“I was going to go to college, right, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to sit around the house and do nothing, so I joined the military,” Foster said. “It was a really good decision I think. I got some leadership skills, got to talk to people, meet a lot of different people, travel, and learn a lot of unique skills.”

Foster then went on to craft his skills in the kitchen while he served as a soldier and a cook, deploying during Desert Storm and working abroad in Italy and Honduras. He described his time in the military as being “strenuous” but said it taught him a lot.

In 1995, Foster returned to the South Bend area to be with his friends and family and pursue the passion his time in the military had nurtured.

“I started cooking right away, several restaurants in the area to hone in different kinds of cooking so at fast food, casual, high end cooking, catering, and institutional cooking at the colleges around here,” Foster said.

Foster said he started his cooking journey in South Bend at Hardee’s, moving on to working everywhere from Hacienda to Saint Mary's College. Recently, Foster was on the management team at Bin 23 in Granger.

Four months ago, Foster became the General Manager at CoreLife Eatery in Mishawaka, a fast casual restaurant that offers sustainably made foods.

“I’ve always been a back of the house kind of person, you know,” Foster said. “ But I believe that people should never settle, and you can never think that something is unattainable to you.”

Foster now spends his days managing his team and running the show at the restaurant on Grape Road.

“I come in, make sure my staff is here and ready to go, get the restaurant nice and set and clean for customers to come in. I have some paperwork and inventory to accomplish daily, then scheduling for the coming days and weeks and then I just try and provide really good food and service to all the customers that come in,” Foster said.

One of his favorite parts of his job involves providing young children in the area with healthy foods through the restaurant’s partnership with Baby Boot Camp.

Even when Foster leaves work for the day, he continues to share his love of cooking with his family.

“I love to grill out. Brisket, ribs, things like that,” Foster said.

Three of Foster’s four kids followed in his footsteps into culinary careers and the dad said, simply, it feels pretty good.

“When they were younger, I would cook and I would explain to them, this goes with that, this is how you prepare something and I remember my baby, I was cooking potatoes and I said guess what I’m making and he said mashed potatoes, and I said no French fries and he was so shocked that you can make French fries at home. Now he’s in cooking,” Foster said.

For Foster, observing Black History Month doesn’t just happen in February. He spreads his message of inclusivity and desire to bring others together all year long.

“Black History Month is exciting,” Foster said. “It’s encouraging and it is learning for adults, we can learn from mistakes and learn better from what we’ve done wrong to improve ourselves. For the young ones, maybe they’re three or four years old and they’re just starting to learn, and we can get them on the right track right away.”

To celebrate Black History Month, ABC57 is highlighting business leaders in Michiana every Friday during the month of February.

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