Humans of Northwood: Mr. Santos Chaparro III

With the coming of the second semester of the 2022-23 school year, Northwood School welcomes a new member into its community, Mr. Santos Chaparro III, the new Director of Food Service. Originally from New Jersey, Santos moved to the Adirondacks 24 years ago when he attended Paul Smith’s College for Culinary Arts. He currently resides in Lake Placid with his wife and son. The Mirror sat down with Santos to learn about his life and journey to Northwood.

When I was younger, I had asthma and allergies, so I spent a lot of time home with my mother. We would pass the time watching cooking shows, and I would try to help her in the kitchen. As years went on, I grew out of being ill, especially when I moved up here to go to Paul Smith’s College. Initially, I was going to school for medical technology in North Jersey.

When I first started at Paul Smith’s, I fell in love with the area because I saw the towering snowbanks—they were taller than I was. You would hear a guy blowing snow all over the place, and you couldn’t even see over them. It felt like this little tunnel you were going through, except it was all snow. It was gorgeous. ‘Oh my God, this is where I need to be,’ and I have loved it ever since.

Before I came here, I worked at the Crowne Plaza many years ago when it was called the Holiday Inn. After that, I went to Lisa G’s and spent seven years there. I then moved on to the Lake Placid Conference Center for eight years.

Working at a school is the same idea. It’s still food service; I know the business. I built rapport with customers, clients, and vendors, which has made it a clean transition thus far.

My favorite food is fall cooking, such as stews and casseroles. The smell of decaying leaves makes me happiest, especially when cooking, and the windows are always open. My hobbies are fishing when springtime-summer hits, cleaning the house and doing laundry, which sounds odd. I grew up always making my bed and ensuring the room was picked up and tidied. Other than that, I enjoy working out, reading, and watching the news.

I always saw my passion [in cooking] as a hobby because it’s easy, and everything else is just duty, like management and payroll. It feels simple: I can make soup and cook food whenever. It’s more about focusing on attention, verbal interactions, and networking. That’s always the best part—I’m no longer being bogged down in the kitchen or office.

As told to Hung Nguyen ’25. Photo provided.


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