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SAIT alumnus Troy Fleischhaker is no stranger to a life on the go. “I’m extremely free-spirited. I like challenge and adventure,” he says.
So when a few spur-of the-moment connections landed him a job as one of three head chefs on CBS Television Network’s highly successful reality TV show, Survivor, Fleischhaker didn’t hesitate.
“The job was made for me,” he says.
After graduating from SAIT’s Cook Apprentice program in 1996, Fleishhaker went on to work with some of Calgary’s finest chefs and restaurant groups. Craving more adventure, he hit the road to work in places like Melbourne, Australia, Edinburgh, Scotland and Beirut, Lebanon before landing his current gig on Survivor in 2013. He has now had four seasons with the show and travelled with them to the Philippines and Cambodia.
Being flown to exotic locations for five months at a time often means a myriad of cultural experiences, and Fleischhaker enjoys the challenge. “Survivor is always a really crazy adventure thrown in my lap,” he says.
Over the years, Survivor has honed an elite team of professionals from all over the world. While there’s always a core group of staff that Fleischakker works with every season, they also hire a local team on location. In Cambodia, he worked through the language barrier to help teach local chefs the recipes for the show.
“It can be a logistical nightmare,” he says. “It’s never smooth-there’s always something crazy going on.”
Between seasons, Fleischhaker runs his business, Happy Salt — a Calgary-based food and hospitality consulting business. He works with restaurant owners in menu development, training strategies and financial management.
And Fleischhaker has no plans to slow down in the near future. He says he’s been considering some local business ventures, but he’s not ready to leave the adventure of his job on Survivor just yet.
“It gives me a lot of flexibility,” he says. “I get to travel a lot and I’m not tied down to one spot. I feel quite fortunate.”
Written by Jolisa Tweedie, SAIT Journalism Student