(PHOTO: Rob Grabowski/US PRESSWIRE)
Ted Berg, USA TODAY Sports
At 25, Pirates outfielder Travis Snider is still proving himself on the baseball field. But off the field, Snider might be the league's top chef and is most certainly its foremost food-tweeter. Under the handle "@Lunchboxhero45," Snider routinely posts photos of his kitchen conquests.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Snider posted photographic evidence of an incredible spread: Four racks of dry-rubbed ribs, 26 steaks, seven pounds of pork carnitas, homemade pico de gallo, a variety of snacks, and cupcakes and brownies for dessert.
On Feb. 1, he tweeted a particularly appetizing photo of kona-crusted lamb. It's making me hungry:
As a man who frequently tweets his own culinary exploits, I caught up with Snider at Pirates' camp to discuss his work in the kitchen.
So how'd you become "Lunchbox Hero?"
"Lunchbox" started in high school. I was a freshman on the varsity football team, and at a roundtable lunch buffet in-between two-a-days my freshman or sophomore year, I put on a pretty impressive display and some of the older guys took notice. Throughout the years, I've put on a few more displays like that - at times, it can get a little of disgusting how much food I can put down - and as I've grown older and learned how to cook, the Lunchbox name has stuck. The "hero" came from Guitar Hero, actually.
Are your current teammates as impressed?
Yeah, I think there's some valid competition. Pedro Alvarez and I had dinner the other night and realized that we might have been separated at birth when it comes to our ability to eat and our desire for food.
Last year at a team function, we had a little bit of an epidemic going on at the grill, and they called me in from the bullpen. I felt that I was able to weather the storm and get the burgers done well, the steaks done well, and everybody was happy.
What's your favorite part of the pig?
Got to go with bacon. I enjoy cooking bacon in the oven, throwing in a little granulated garlic, some fresh cracked pepper. When you get bacon in any restaurant, nine times out of 10 it's going to be good. But then you can start playing around with different kinds of seasonings, and you get that real thick cut -- meaty bacon is probably my favorite part of the pig.
A lot of people don't know about cooking bacon in the oven.
I think it's underrated as well. Watching Epic Meal Time - I can't condone all the activities they participate in on Epic Meal Time - but nonetheless some of the activities they put on are pretty amazing. Their bacon flips in the oven really turned me on to that idea.
How do you balance your obvious love of food with your need to stay healthy, as a professional athlete?
I think people get the misconception that meat is that bad for you. I could go on for hours about what my theories are, and things that I've studied about nutrition. But most people don't realize I don't tweet every meal that I eat. And when I do tweet, I'm not tweeting about salad. I'm not tweeting about broccoli, even though I'm eating that stuff.
It seems like you go pretty heavy on proteins.
I stick to protein and green vegetables. I've had incredible results, as far as tests go, with micronutrient deficiencies -- I've got no deficiencies. I have my body fat down to just under nine percent, eating primarily meats, eggs, proteins and vegetables. I'm learning a lot about how the carbohydrates affect your blood sugar and insulin levels, and what the downside is to eating white breads and other things I've strayed from. I pick my spots to have my cheat meals that more often than not will make it to twitter.
I understand there were some Oreo brownies around here.
Actually, I can't take credit for that. My girlfriend brought in a recipe. The bottom layer is a sheet of cookie dough, then she put Double Stuf Oreos in, covered it with a layer of brownie, and then sprinkled reese's peanut butter cups on top.
That sounds incredible.
We're trying to find a name for it, something along the lines of "diabetes" is what I'm thinking. That's obviously something I stay away from six or seven days a week. But once a week or once every two weeks, it's good to let your hair down and reload the system.
What's your favorite sandwich?
Back home (in Washington state), we've got a little sub shop called Elliott Bay Pizza. There are two sandwiches, and I have to get a six-inch of each because I can never decide which one I want. I go with the chicken cordon bleu, add bacon to it, and get rid of all the tomatoes and stuff because it just gets in the way. And then there's a three pigs barbecue sandwich. I believe it's pork loin, pork belly and bacon, so a nice blend of garlicky, salty flavor and then a good sweet barbecue sauce. It's some nice tender meat. I enjoy both of those sandwiches every time I go home.