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To be a chef, or an NFL player
Sage Lewis at Riccardo Silva Stadium. Photo by FIU Athletics.

To be a chef, or an NFL player

Senior linebacker Sage Lewis is a recent hospitality grad who wants to be either an NFL linebacker or a professional chef.

December 18, 2019 at 10:00am

Senior Sage Lewis '19 is one of the football team's best and most interesting players. The recent hospitality graduate is not only the owner of FIU's single-season tackle record (2018), but the author of perhaps the most intriguing quote ever made by an FIU player.

He said it in the press conference following FIU’s stunning win over UM. A reporter asked Lewis if a rivalry had just been born. His response went viral.

What inspired Lewis to take this stand?

“I feel like everybody kind of ‘little boy’d’ us as a university. I feel like they get most of the attention. I feel like it was deeper than football," Lewis said.

Lewis has gained a lot from his time at FIU, where he has prepared himself for two possible careers. The South Florida native has wanted to be an NFL player since he was 6 years old, but if that does not work out, he has a backup plan. He wants to be a chef.

The aspiring cook 

Growing up, Lewis’ favorite TV station was not Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. It was the Food Network.

“I just started trying to cook things,” Lewis said.

First he tried rice, then he scrambled eggs. As Lewis became a more serious chef, he found that cooking for himself benefited him on the field. Oven-roasted potatoes and plain pasta became his pre-game fuel; he learned that complicated dishes with acidic components, like meatballs with red sauce, were best consumed after a game.

“When you cook, you can control more of what is going inside of your body instead of eating out. Even though you can get chicken and salad from so-and-so, you don’t know how they are preparing it or what sauces they are cooking it in. When I’m trying to get my body in tip-top shape, that is when I’m the best at cooking, because I can control everything that is going on,” Lewis said.

At the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Lewis further refined his culinary skills. He learned just how much goes into the restaurant business, from the correlation between cleanliness and profitable eateries to the meticulous ways to properly cook a vegetable.

“One thing that sticks with me to this day while cooking is when you cook vegetables, take it out of the hot water. Even if you take it off of the stove, it’s still going to cook. You preserve the vegetables by blanching them in cold water,” said Lewis, who graduated in December. “That professor was great for telling me that. Even restaurants are guilty of serving overcooked broccoli.”

If he were to start his own restaurant, Lewis would go with an American-Italian theme, something like the Cheesecake Factory. 

Before Lewis starts his post-collegiate career in food or football, though, he will rep the FIU blue and gold one more time in the Camellia Bowl against Arkansas State on Dec. 21. His senior class, already the winningest in the football team’s history, will look to secure a second-straight bowl win in Montgomery, Alabama.

Tickets, tailgate passes and travel packages are on sale now.

Sage Lewis