The Skinny Men in White
How do chefs keep slim in kitchens replete with butter, cream, sugar, and duck fat?
Despite being surrounded by mouthwatering food during their long workdays, six local chefs maintain a trim frame under their chef whites. How do they do it? One has great genes and indulges his food desires without gaining weight while another maintains optimum health by eating mainly a macrobiotic diet and not his own delicious creations. The other four, like most of us, have to implement multiple strategies to maintain their ideal weight.
1. Andre Molle [55, 6’1”, 170 lbs]
Le Château 1410 Rte 35, South Salem (914) 533-6631
Andre Molle weighs only 10 pounds more today than he did 25 years ago. Following his credo, “Everything in moderation,” Molle eats two meals daily: a breakfast of juice, yogurt, toast, and coffee and a 5:30 staff dinner of salad, vegetable, starch, and meat, fish, or chicken with a “good for the soul” glass of wine. He never eats just before bedtime. He tastes sauces, dressings, and new dishes daily. Lobster ravioli or foie gras are his favorite foods, but he eats them sparingly. Desserts are limited to Le Château’s “irresistible” Sunday pastry buffet. He stays fit by frequently negotiating stairs in his large, bi-level kitchen. He says, “Doing what I love keeps me energized.”
2. Alex Sze [29, 5’8”, 155 lbs]
Juniper 575 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson (914) 478-2542
Working almost non-stop to establish his relatively new restaurant, Sze eats his meals after patrons leave: a small lunch of bread, soup, or a sandwich, and a dinner of salad, pasta, chicken, pork, or beef, and a cookie. Dining with his enthusiastic staff adds to his enjoyment of meals. He tastes every dish. “If I don’t like it,” he says, “the customer won’t.” He doesn’t measure portion size but eats only until full. Not attracted to desserts, he snacks on fresh fruit. His guilty-pleasure foods are his signature pastas, salami, artisanal cheeses, and his mother’s home cooking. Although constantly moving at work (a co-worker wearing a pedometer clocked eight miles one day), he recently joined his wife’s fitness club for cardio exercising and weight training.
3. Alexandre Cheblal [36, 6’2”, 178 lbs]
Belle Havana Catering 47 N Broadway, Yonkers (914) 969-1006
Alex Cheblal cooks classic French and Cuban dishes but eats an organic macrobiotic diet of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein. “Food is medicine,” he says. Breakfast, his largest meal, consists of juiced green vegetables, beets, and ginger, accompanied by kefir or yogurt, fresh fruits, and raw honey. His medium-sized lunch includes brown rice, steamed vegetables, salad, and protein cookies. Dinner with staff is small—broth, sautéed vegetables, and baked tofu. Twice a year, he fasts for three weeks, drinking lemonade with raw honey, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. He says, “I cook better when I fast. I’m inspired and my sense of smell is better.” For energy, he drinks a gallon of Yerba mate (a beverage made from the naturally caffeinated leaves of the South American rainforest holly tree) mixed with water. He does yoga, runs, and boxes. He declares, “When you eat better, you think better.”
4. Rui Correia [39, 5’10”, 175 lbs]
Piri-Q 360 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck (914) 341-1443
Douro 28 W Putnam Ave, Greenwich, CT (203) 869-7622
Correia eats four meals that decrease in portion size as the day progresses. His breakfast includes egg-white omelets, pancakes, or bagels. His next three meals include salad, vegetables, and grilled meat, chicken, or fish. He has a glass of wine with dinner. He avoids late-night meals. He rations his temptations, which include ice cream and anything chocolate, especially his own super-creamy pudding, to once a week. Sometimes, he sparingly indulges in his Portuguese paella, which he loves. He says, “If you have less, you can have it more frequently.” He does a daily morning stretch and a light workout. “There’s nothing easy about working around good food and staying fit,” he admits.
5. Donal O’Rourke [35, 5’11”, 179 lbs]
Hudson Grille 165 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains (914) 997-2000
When his restaurant opened last year, O’Rourke gained 10 pounds. He’s since lost them through exercise and jogging. Breakfast consists of Irish oatmeal, toast, and tea. At noon, he has an egg and cranberry-walnut bread. At 4:30 he and his staff have a meal of rice and beans and slow-cooked pork or grilled fish. He tastes everything in his restaurant. He reluctantly limits portion size when dining on favorites like his crab cakes and scallops. He has two organic apples and a banana each day. He snacks nightly on gingersnaps and has ice cream once a week. He also loves sticky toffee puddings, imported Irish candies, and chocolates. Although in constant motion at work, he says he’s never tired. “I love the energy of my kitchen.”
6. James Kelly [47, 5’4”, 136 lbs]
Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar, 117 N Route 303, Congers (845) 268-6555
If he weren’t so charming, Kelly would be easy to hate. He eats everything; he doesn’t gain weight. Breakfast is oatmeal, eggs, and fresh fruits. At work, he partakes in his staff’s 11 am and 4 pm meals. Throughout his day, he samples dishes and snacks on his niece’s fresh-baked, peanut-butter cookies. He drinks eight to 10 glasses of water and many cups of coffee. Returning home after 11 pm, he eats large home-cooked dinners. He’s a “huge carnivore” but also enjoys fish. He indulges in ice cream and “a few” Nutella sandwiches before bedtime. His doctor attributes his excellent cardiac and cholesterol readings to his constant motion in his large kitchen and his navigating stairs. In addition, Kelly says, “My seven-year-old son keeps me constantly going.”
Andrea Kurtz is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared previously in Westchester Magazine, the New York Times, Vogue India, Ladies’ Home Journal, Fresh Cup Tea Magazine and the Yoga Journal, among others. Next spring, her recently completed novel, set mainly in Westchester, will be published. It features passionate, talented individuals, who, unlike the chefs she interviewed in her article, have little self-discipline to complement their creativity.