Penn State Coach Learned to Cook by Watching Food Network, Went on to Compete on ‘Chopped’

Herb Hand, a Penn State football coach, watches Food Network to decompress
Penn State Coach Herb Hand Learned to Cook by Watching Food Network, Went on to Compete on ‘Chopped’

Photo Modified: Flickr/Caitlin Regan/CC 2.0

Two months into his newest coaching gig, Herb Hand showed up on an episode of ‘Chopped’

Herb Hand is a football coach at Pennsylvania State, but he’s also the man behind “the greatest food I’ve ever eaten,” in the words of Penn State’s offensive tackle Andrew Nelson.

Hand has coached football for more than 20 years, but he’s been cooking since he was a young child. Now, the coach cooks to decompress. And when he gets home from practice, he prefers to watch cooking shows over ESPN.

“That’s my life,” Hand told USA Today of SportsCenter. “I want to get away from that. So I watch the Food Network. That’s where I learned how to do all this stuff, by watching those shows.”

Last year, the coach parlayed his considerable cooking talent into an appearance on Chopped, one of the network’s most popular competition-style cooking shows. Hand didn’t win, but his episode made him something of a local legend when, two months into his job at Penn, the football coach showed up on TV. Now, the coach cooks for the team when he can, and his players reap the rewards.


“Literally his brisket is the greatest food I’ve ever eaten,” Nelson told USA Today. ”The greatest meat I’ve ever had in my life. I remember I must have had like three plates of it and I was just sitting there afterwards like in a food coma.”