Chefs with a Passion for Running
A love for running and a love for eating often inadvertently goes hand in hand. Post-long run munchies, anyone? But a handful of runners have taken their love for food to a whole new level. These professional and celebrity chefs are well-known for creating culinary magic in kitchens and on TV sets across the globe. Unbeknown to many, though, these guys and girls also have equally impressive running résumés. Let’s have a look.
Love him or hate him, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay boasts an impressive list of running accomplishments.
He completed his first marathon in 4:57:00 in 2001 after his father-in-law told him that he was putting on weight. And while his initial motivation behind running was to lose weight, it has since turned into much more than that. “Now I actually enjoy the time out running. You’re on your own, just with your thoughts. It’s a great release from day-to-day business.” Ramsey adds that running helps to keep him sane. “I’m a happier person when I’ve been out for a run.”
Ramsay has since completed more than ten marathons, with an impressive 3:25:47 finish at the Edinburgh Marathon in Scotland in 2009.
Ramsay’s training schedule includes some heavy strength work, like squats and TRX pull-ups. He also pays careful attention to fueling both before and during goal races, something which he believes contributes to a good race result.
Former MasterChef judge and co-owner of Eataly, Joe Bastianich, is also an Ironman finisher. Bastianich started running in 2006 in an attempt to shed 60 unwanted pounds and went on to complete his first marathon almost a year later. He has since clocked a speedy 3:42:36 at the New York City Marathon in 2009, attesting to how far he’s come fitness-wise.
According to Bastianich it’s very easy to overindulge when you work with food all day, every day. Bastianich states:
Iron Chef America contestant and author of the cookbook Demolition Desserts, Elizabeth Falkner says that as a chef, she thinks exactly like an athlete. She states:
Falkner clocked a 5:40:01 at the 2016 New York City Marathon and did so in support of NYRR Team for Kids. Funds raised by this organisation are used to provide free or low-cost health and fitness programs to kids with little or no access to regular physical activity.
Usually not very hungry after training or competing, Falkner loves whipping up the following smoothie after her runs: Coconut water, dates, chia seeds, almond or peanut butter, yogurt (non-fat), flax seeds, brown rice protein powder, ice and vanilla extract. Yum!
Michelin-starred chef and owner of the Red Rooster in NYC, Marcus Samuelsson, clocked an impressive 03:36:42 at the 2015 New York City Marathon. The Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised Samuelsson allegedly fueled this effort with some Ethiopian superfood the night before the race, including protein-rich injera bread with sauce-free chickpeas and lentils. And a beer.
Coached by Nike+ Run Club coach, Knox Robinson, Samuelsson used the 6.1 mile Central Park loop as his training grounds for the race. Samuelsson ran in aid of his wife’s charity, Three Goats, which raises funds for various upliftment projects in his country of birth.
Richard Blais, winner of Top Chef All-Stars and author of the cookbook Try this at home, says that running gives him a “mental easiness with having a job that requires eating and constantly tasting”. He adds that when he is out running, it’s one of the only times that his mind isn’t grinding through work-related thought. Which is something that he finds very therapeutic.
Just like Bastianich, Blais started running in an attempt to lose 60 unwanted pounds. He had some additional motivation, though: To win over a crush, Jazmin Zepeda, who is now his wife. Admitting to the fact that he initially ran to be able to eat more, Blais now has a much more balanced approach to running and eating. “Now I think of food as delicious fuel.”
Blais draws many parallels between his life as a chef and life as a runner. “I do think professional cooking and distance running are both about pace and control and enjoying the journey, as well as the goal of a final destination. They both obviously deal with understanding timing. I’ll often refer to a marathon as a half-shift of restaurant service.”
With their highly successful careers and equally impressive running accomplishments, these guys and girls are living proof that running can indeed be incorporated into busy schedules with great success. And they’re also proof of the benefits of doing so: Weight management, stress relief, mental relaxation and the opportunity to make a contribution to some very worthy causes. An inspirational bunch indeed.
How Marcus Samuelsson prepared for the marathon, Jeanine Celeste Pang, 29 October 2015
How notable runners fared at the 2015 New York City Marathon, Megan Hetzel, 1 November 2015
Q & A: Gordon Ramsey, 16 December 2015
Member spotlight: Elizabeth Falkner, Team for Kids, 6 January 2016
Celebrity chef Richard Blais fired up for 4th NYC Marathon, Allison Patillo, 26 October 2016
Why celeb chefs love running marathons, Kit Fox, 3 November 2016
How celebrities fared at the 2016 New York City Marathon, Competitor.com, 6 November 2016
Can you beat these celebrity marathoners?, Runner’s World Editors, 22 November 2016