Gone are the days when many chefs would hide their well-developed beer bellies behind their greasy kitchen whites. In today’s hospitality industry, chefs promote not only their cooking but also a healthier lifestyle.
Perhaps the time has come to question old school wisdom to “never trust a skinny chef,” and replace it with “never trust a non-running chef”?
Today, you see them bagging medals running a marathon, hoarding their Iron Man “finisher” T-shirts, arranging their hard-earned time off to participate in famous race events around the world, and even introducing a sustainable approach into their kitchen’s daily operations.
Then there’s the list of celebrity chefs and restaurateurs that are mileage junkies. From Marcus Samuelsson (famous as the chef judge of Chopped), to Gordon Ramsay (love him or hate him, he clocked a 3:25:47 time for the Edinburgh Marathon (it’s okay to hate him!)), Top Chef finalist Gregory Gourdet, and Elizabeth Falkner (known as The Next Iron Chef). The list goes on.
But what do you think connects the dots between their profession and love of running?
Is it because marathon runners need more calories than most?
Or perhaps it’s just that the miles that get you outside, away from the hot and sweaty professional kitchen. “Budget presentation? Let me do an easy 5K first!”
What’s New Bali spoke with five Bali-based chefs to find out why running and cooking go hand-in-hand.
Q: Why did you start running?
Andrew Skinner (Andrew): As a teenager I ran for the school track and field team. Then “life got in the way” and before I knew it, I was looking in the rear view mirror and could see this overweight and unhealthy, 50-year-old man. It was me. So I would say I wholeheartedly started running again at 50 to get back into shape, and rekindle my real love of running.
Teddy Putra (Teddy): When I could no longer stand bullies calling me “Galon”, as in water gallon, I decided to change my body image and live more healthily by running and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts).
Marc Panades (Marc): It was my boss who forced me to train with him in the hotel gym with a personal trainer – running was part of the program. I was hooked.
Christopher Smith (Chris): I was trapped. I was just trying to stay fit and it became an addiction.
Manoj Rawat (Manoj): First came casual runs to stay fit. Then it became a habit.
Q: With your long work hours, how do you stay motivated and disciplined sticking to a routine?
Andrew: Be committed and remember to enjoy it. Look forward to the huge mental and physical benefits. Also, find fellow runners with similar goals.
Teddy: Stick with a schedule. I always do at least a 45-minute run in the morning before going to work. Make it a part of your day.
Marc: Focus. Get through the hard part in the beginning, until it becomes a routine.
Chris: I make it part of my daily life. Days that I don’t run I feel like something is missing.
Manoj: Push your boundaries. When you achieve milestones, motivation and discipline will follow.
Q: What was your best running experience?
Andrew: The Maybank Bali Marathon, because of the sheer pleasure, ambience and rural setting of running through countless villages, rice paddies and being cheered on by the locals. Most of all the sunrise as Mount Agung majestically comes into full view – it still gives me goosebumps.
Teddy: It was the Rock n’ Run 2016 race when I beat the Kenyan runners and finished in 6th place among 3300 participants.
Marc: I would say last year when I ran the Rinjani 100 for the 27K, and this year’s Maybank Bali marathon.
Chris: The 2018 Maybank Bali Marathon was my first full marathon, so that was a huge achievement. But I think the best experience are my regular Sunday morning runs with friends!
Manoj: The Maybank Bali Marathon 2017. It was my first professional run. I was amazed by the event’s organization and the support from the local community.
Q: And your worst running experience?
Andrew: That would be the Jakarta Marathon when I had a terrible back pain. I hobbled my way to the finish line. I discovered I had kidney stones!
Teddy: The Canggu Fun Run 2018. Heavy rain caused long delays. However, I completed the run and was in the top 20 finishers.
Marc: A short race of 11K in Nusa Dua a week after Rinjani.
Chris: Singapore’s sundowner half marathon – I will never do that again! The humidity is just unbearable!
Manoj: It was a casual Sunday morning run. I fell into a shoulder deep manhole, injured my shin bone and thigh muscle.
Q: Do you have any running pet peeves? What are they? Hint: People taking selfies, spectators shouting “You’re almost there!” (when you are not…)
Andrew: Maybe younger people telling you to go faster?!?
Teddy: The humidity.
Marc: People snapping selfies along the way.
Chris: I hate it when a young lady I know doesn’t join our Sunday morning runs because she is busy writing stories about running chefs!
Manoj: When people walk on the pathway and do not step aside for the approaching runner
Q: How does running influence your work as a chef?
Andrew: It helps to clear my mind. Its almost a dynamic form of meditation, as I disconnect from everything. I returns to work re-energized, calmer, fitter and with better stamina.
Teddy: It boosts my confidence and self-esteem – I am more focused.
Marc: It helps me to be more focused during work, clears my mind, and also helps me be more patient.
Chris: Running keeps your energy level up, and clears your mind. With long shifts and being on your feet all day, the fitness from running keeps you going.
Manoj: It keeps me ahead of my game, I plan my day during my morning run.
Q: Do you remember your first pair of running shoes? And what shoes are you wearing and why are you a fan.
Andrew: Nike. But for the last few years I have been wearing Brooks. Currently the Brooks Glycerin and Brooks Launch 4 models. Comfortable and durable.
Teddy: Yonex Badminton shoes, because I did not have any pair of running shoes at that time. But I won the race!
Marc: I bought a pair of Asics Trabuco for trail running. Now I’m in love with On Cloud. They are comfortable, light and have good cushioning.
Chris: It was the Nike TR2, but they do not produce them anymore, while the newer TR3 model are just not the same. I took the leap into Asics Kayanos and found them to have awesome support, minus the bulk!
Manoj: My first shoes were New Balance Fresh Foam Zante. I tried a few others; the Adidas pureboost, On Cloud, and Brooks adrenalin19. I am still on the lookout for THE one.
Q: Shorts or tight lycra? Hat or no hat?
Andrew: Usually lycra leggings (avoid chafed thighs!) with a pair of shorts over the top. And usually a sun visor with an open top. In cooler locations, definitely a cap.
Teddy: Tight lycra and no hat.
Marc: Shorts for training and tight lycra for triathlons. And a hat depending on my mood.
Chris: Shorts and no hat. And I will stick with it as I’m a bit weird about changing what I wear when running. It’s a mental thing.
Manoj: Shorts, and a hat for longer runs.
Q: Refuel with energy gels or isotonic drinks during a run?
Andrew: On longer runs I use energy gels, the SIS brand. The best natural drink is fresh coconut water.
Teddy: Isotonic drinks.
Marc: Energy gels.
Chris: Both for me – especially for a full marathon distance!
Manoj: Energy gels.
Q: Victory meal or hibernate after a long run?
Andrew: Victory drink! Smashing a heap of beers with my fellow race finishers, usually on the beach.
Teddy: Tough question. But, I prefer to hibernate.
Marc: Victory meal and planning the next race.
Chris: Neither – 20 Bintang beers with the running crew! The best way to unwind!
Manoj: A victory meal, then liquid bread ie; beer, with lovely people from my running group.
Q: If you had to pick one: A good run or a good meal?
Andrew: That’s tough. I would say a great run followed by a great meal at the end of it.
Teddy: A good run.
Marc: A Good run.
Chris: A good run followed by a good meal. I am always hungry after a run!
Manoj: A good meal after a good run.
Q: If you were to meet your 10-year-old self, what would you tell him about running? Would you consider advising him to run professionally, instead of being a chef?
Andrew: I would tell myself to be as disciplined as possible and make time, no matter what, to keep running and enjoy it. Profesionally and personally, I truly have been blessed being a chef, with all the opportunities it has given me. Working in different parts of the world, meeting important people, and being exposed to different cultures. So I’m happy to say I would advise the younger “me” to be a chef, and to run whenever I can make the time.
Teddy: I would tell my younger self to run because running has many benefits for the mind and body. Keep running while you achieve your dreams. It’s a very hard question. I cannot choose between the two, because for me, running is a lifestyle, but being a chef is my passion.
Marc: I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I was ten, so I would tell him to stay healthy, and keep running because you’ll be a great chef one day, and while rewarding, it is a very tough job.
Chris: I think starting to run in my mid-thirties was a great time to start. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been running all of my life. I love it now, but I also loved the less-healthy party life leading up to my mid-thirties.
Manoj: It’s not as hard as you think. Run for fun.
Q: What advice would you give other chefs who want a healthier lifestyle, but cannot seem to make time to run?
Andrew: You have to START by STARTING. Have a realistic goal. Run once a week, and commit to that – it will grow on you. A lot of chefs are, sadly, overweight. I was too. We need to make time to lace up those runners as it will give us more “good years” later.
Teddy: Start by making a little time to start exercising.
Marc: Stop making excuses. The beginning is tough, but happiness is the reward. The first day I trained, the pain lasted for a week, but now I’m 15kg lighter than when I first arrived in Bali two years ago.
Chris: Don’t overthink it – just do it!
Manoj: Make friends with someone who is passionate about running. Everyone needs a source of inspiration.