Fitness

 

Secret Ingredients

Have you ever been to a restaurant while you were on a diet or trying to stay fit? Chances are, that diet was broken by the time you walked out. Now, imagine working there and having to be around that amazing food every single day. How do you not end up overweight? Find out how chefs from four of New Jersey’s top restaurants resist temptation, stay fit, and stay calm in their notoriously high-stress profession.

Phil Campanella, 33, Chef, Liberty House Restaurant, Jersey City

Describe your exercise regimen.
My exercise regimin consists of weight training, tabata, and mixed martial arts.

I regularly do weight training 3 times a week for about an hour. Tabata is a high-intensity interval-style training. For example, you do as many pushups as you can in 20 seconds, then rest 10 sec. You repeat this for 8 sets and then do the cycle again with a different exercise. Because of the intensity of this workout, I limit it to one day a week. I also train with friends doing mixed martial arts, which incorporates kick-boxing, wrestling, and jiu jitsu. I try to do this twice a week for a few hours each day. Then I give myself a rest day. It’s the different types of workouts that help me continue to burn fat and develop new muscle.

How do you stay motivated to work out?
One of the reasons I try to work out so hard is so I can compensate for the extra calories I have to take in when I try things or taste things at work. Working in a kitchen is physically demanding, so being in shape helps me do certain aspects of my job better. That helps motivate me to stay in shape.

Is it hard to resist eating the restaurant’s food?
Yes, but I don’t keep myself from having it. Everything in moderation. If I want to eat the short rib for dinner, I’ll just have a 4oz piece instead of an 8oz piece and keep the side portions small as well. I’ll also work out a little harder if I happen to stray from my normal diet. If you keep the “bad foods” small, it doesn’t really hurt. The more your body gets used to eating small portions, the quicker you get full so you don’t really overindulge. Your body starts to monitor itself.

The restaurant business is notoriously high stress—do you find your workout routine also helps you stay balanced? Do you do anything else to keep your stress levels down?
The whole reason I started doing all this was because the stress of the business had me almost 60 pounds overweight and having chest pains. My body constantly hurt from the long hours. When I am working out, there is nothing else going on in the world. It’s the only time my mind is clear from all the worries of life. It's just about me. This is my form of meditation. It's probably the only time in the day that I’m not a slave to my blackberry

Any food weaknesses (anything you absolutely can’t resist)?
Chocolate is my all-time weakness. So I allow my self a piece of dark chocolate after dinner every day.

Are there any guilty pleasures you allow yourself to indulge in?
I actually allow myself one cheat meal a week. I'll eat whatever I want and as much as I want for that meal. So, I don’t feel deprived.

What’s your favorite healthy food or recipe?
My favorite health food recipe would have to be grilled chicken in a chopped salad with romaine, olives, cherry peppers, sliced almonds, garbanzo beans, and low fat feta cheese with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It is loaded with protein, dietary fiber, and healthy fats. This is a power meal!

James Laird, 40, Chef/Owner, Restaurant Serenade, Chatham

Describe your workout regimen.
Every day, I do stretches and “Foam Rolling”. I work out twice a week with a trainer, focusing on functional exercises, i.e., those which will keep me strong in my day-to-day activities -- always working several muscle groups in the same exercise. I do yoga once a week -- either Asthanga or Hot Power Flow. On my off days I do cardio on an Arc Trainer along with core stability exercises. I also play golf in the warm weather.

How do you manage to stay fit and healthy when surrounded by so many tempting foods?
I have a naturally fast metabolism, and keeping weight on is my challenge. I found I do this best by eating healthy food (my cooking is actually quite healthy -- except for the desserts, of course) and maintaining my exercise regimen.

Is it hard to resist eating the restaurant’s food?
I eat in the restaurant every day, but because I cook in such a healthy style, it has not been a problem for me. I find that I eat several smaller meals throughout the day, instead of large ones, because I don't have time to really sit down and relax.

The restaurant business is notoriously high stress—do you find your workout routine also helps you stay balanced? Do you do anything else to keep your stress levels down?
Yes, exercise helps. Before I worked out so much, I would go through cooks every six months. My current kitchen staff have all been with me for several years. Exercise is my Prozac!

I make sure that I take time from the restaurant every day, even if it is just an hour or two to get away and clear my head. I find that my good staff has lowered my stress level.

Any food weaknesses (anything you absolutely can’t resist)?
I cannot resist my Brownie dessert -- I actually created it for myself. I have it at least twice a week. I also indulge in ice cream sandwiches in bed at night, always giving the last corner to my drooling Airedale, Bailey.

Scott Snyder, 42, Chef/Partner, Boulevard Five72, Kenilworth

How would you describe your exercise regimen?
I am a competitive bike racer who has raced all over the world. I ride every day to and from work, and depending on the day, I try to ride between lunch and dinner service to train for my weekend races. I try to race every Saturday and Sunday morning at 6 a.m.


How do you manage to stay fit and healthy when surrounded by so many tempting foods?
I exercise enough where I can eat anywhere between 3000-4000 calories a day.

Is it hard to resist eating the restaurant’s food? How do you keep yourself from overindulging?
I basically live at the restaurant, so I only eat restaurant food. I've never had the urge to overindulge; my exercise suppresses my appetite sometimes. My only weakness would be a great bottle of wine.


The restaurant business is notoriously high stress—do you find your workout routine also helps you stay balanced? Do you do anything else to keep your stress levels down?
Yes, I use my routine to clear my head and escape the restaurant. Lots of times on my long rides, I come up with new menu ideas. Just being outside gives me a nice break from standing on the line. I also find cycling keeps me fit to last longer!

Any food weaknesses (anything you absolutely can’t resist)?
Chocolate

Do you have any guilty pleasures you allow yourself to indulge in?
Great wine

What’s your favorite healthy food/recipe?
Grilled salmon and broccoli rabe with a fennel and confit tomato vingarette.

Mark Farro, 25, Sous Chef, Uproot

How would you describe your exercise regimen?
Intense! My exercise regimen focuses on strength training, with light cardio. Generally I spend six days a week and roughly an hour and a half each day at the gym. My routine focuses on a different body part each day. For each muscle group I do anywhere from 6 to 12 exercises. Each exercise requires 3-4 sets and 10 to 12 reps with about a minute to two-minute rest in between. Every other day I focus on abdominals and cardio for about 15 to 20 minutes. The cardio portion is a very light jog; this prevents the body from burning muscle and aides in the removal of fatty deposits throughout the body.

How do you manage to stay fit and healthy when surrounded by so many tempting foods?
I have the luxury of being surrounded by so many great foods, but that doesn’t mean I’ll overindulge. Oddly enough, from over exposure to food, it’s just not as appealing to eat it; plus, I have pretty good self-control. Don’t get me wrong, I eat a lot through the day—just ask any of my cooks; however, I stick to a pretty strict diet. On average, I eat every three hours, with a focus on high-protein and low-fat foods. The food that I cook for the dining room is just off limits. I make a habit of going through the mise en place of the cooks to ensure things are seasoned well and the components of the dish are balanced, but that is where my eating of the restaurant’s cuisine begins and ends.

The restaurant business is notoriously high stress—do you find your workout routine also helps you stay balanced? Do you do anything else to keep your stress levels down? (Yoga, meditation, etc.)
The restaurant presents a high-stress environment. Going to the gym every morning is my form of meditation. It keeps my mind free and clear for about 1 ½ hrs in the day, which helps a lot. Raising the heart rate, making the blood pump is the greatest feeling; maybe that is why I love the restaurant business, it has a similar effect!

Any food weaknesses (anything you absolutely can’t resist)?
OK, I’m human and what human cannot resist a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie? The smell alone just drives me crazy. I love to bake them, but love to eat them even more. I try to limit my baking of cookies at the restaurant, which is impossible since I oversee the pastry program. I guess, sometimes you just have to cave in…

Are there any guilty pleasures you allow yourself to indulge in?
After a long stress-filled week, I do allow myself a cheat day. Generally this happens on Sunday; now I try not to go overboard, since it’s back to business Monday morning. Plus I find eating off my diet generally results in not feeling so well. Cheat days for me involve the cooking of my grandmothers, the food I was raised on, comfort foods!

What’s your favorite healthy food or recipe?
Greek yogurt and grilled chicken:
1 grilled chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into medium dice
½ cup currants or raisins
1 8oz container plain fat free Greek yogurt
3 oz sliced almonds

Mix all together and enjoy!
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