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Chefs in Training

After twelve hours in the kitchen, all they want is a good workout.

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Despite Paula Deen’s type-2 diabetes revelation and the debut last week of the Food Network’s reality show Fat Chef, not everyone who makes their living in a kitchen is overweight and out of shape. With few exceptions, you might even say that there’s an inverse relationship between Michelin stars and body-mass index. Much of this has to do with the changing nature of the job, of course—today’s celebrity chef is expected to cut a certain figure on the small screen, and to photogenically embody his brand, no matter how many image consultants and personal trainers it takes. But it goes deeper than that. Not only is cooking grueling work that requires a certain level of physical fitness, but it just might attract the personality type that thrives on the adrenaline unleashed during the typical dinner rush. Then again, it could be that very pressure-cooker situation that drives chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Bobby Flay to run marathons and Tom Colicchio to climb into the boxing ring. Some go beyond even that, subjecting themselves to competitive-level training or becoming obsessed with high-intensity sports, either to build stamina, develop discipline, or simply to blow off steam. Parm’s Rich Torrisi took up kung fu when he was cooking at A Voce and can’t imagine life without it. Hugue Dufour, of M. Wells fame, has fervently played ice hockey longer than he’s been a cook (he’s Canadian, after all). In the downtime between Chicago’s L20 and a restaurant he hopes to open in New York, Laurent Gras rode 15,000 miles on his Pinarello Dogma road bike last year, just for fun. And then there’s Eleven Madison Park’s practically bionic man, Daniel Humm. When he isn’t brining pigs’ heads and such, he’s running marathons, racing mountain bikes, and swimming laps. “Cooking is also an endurance sport,” he says. And, these days, just as competitive. Here, some chef-athlete stats that might surprise you.


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