"Food: Science, Art, Passion, Pleasure, Adventure & Exploration"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fitness and the Foodie

"Never trust a skinny chef."

I've heard this phrase a thousand times and up until recently, didn't give it much thought. I think it's a cute and amusing phrase (still) that simply implies that the best cooks, chefs, and/or bakers are those who LOVE food so much that there's no way they could be skinny. They need to bring this zealous, culinary spirit into the kitchen when preparing foods so that flavors pop and perform, smells intoxicate and arouse, and the profound presentation of plates dramatically kidnap breath from many throats that can barely muster "ahhhh!"

Basically, the phrase says skinny chefs are those who restrain themselves far too much to enjoy and make good food.


Let's be honest. There's some truth to that, but it's not completely true.

I do believe that foodies are people who naturally and avidly enjoy all things food and drink, even given each of our various approaches and distinctive leanings toward particular cuisines and flavors, and our specific areas of focus in the realm of  food mania.  It's hard to be a strict disciplinarian with one's waistline when there's so much love going on here.

The love of food naturally spells out passion. That's obvious. Foodies don't just eat to function and to satisfy hunger. And, we often know that passion, in any form, should be unbridled and uninhibited. At least, that's what most of us think about passion when pondering over the nature of it. Passion is not passion unless it's intense, deep, and obsessive...and free.

Passion, like anything else that's exhilarating, can become warped and darkly baroque and lead to irresponsibility and addiction. There always has to be a checks and balances on most things, right? I shall say that food is certainly no area exempt from this supposition.

So, when it comes to the phrase "never trust a skinny chef," I think some foodies do realize that unchecked passion with food can lead to bad health over time. The body has its limits and we each should know our own. Every person is different.

I believe strongly in the philosophy of HAES (Health at Every Size). This acronym means that what is healthy for one person weight-wise might not be so healthy for another and that intuitive eating is the best way to achieve and maintain good health. The goal should not be to become skinny, but simply healthy, and a person can be healthy with extra weight given their unique body dynamics and limitations. This is fact.

It's only been recent that North America's body ideals have related to being at the lowest end possible of BMI. And let's face it, that BMI system itself is not so accurate for some. I'm one of those people.

So some bona fide foodies can indeed be "skinny." I think some people either have very fast metabolisms (although most people are average this way) or they find ways to incorporate a good degree of physical activity and balance in their eating into their lives to where they work off any excess weight, whatever the motivations are behind their actions. They allow themselves to eat whatever they want, but in moderation and sometimes perhaps with substitutions.

I do think that women in the food industry are under even more pressure than average to remain visually appealing, conventionally, and still exude this orgasmic attitude about food. Food is everywhere in the food biz, so there's more to watch out for if one doesn't want to fall out of popularity, given what they are known for.

Over time, as I've observed some of the most conventionally attractive celebrity chefs on Food Network and The Cooking Channel, I've seen there have been periods where they were a bit pudgier or heavier. Giada De Laurentiis' weight can fluctuate at times, I've noticed. She is very petite but she's been chunkier during certain seasons of her shows. This wasn't just when she was pregnant. The woman enjoys food and if she didn't work out to maintain her weight, I can easily seeing her being naturally chubby. In my book, she'd certainly still be cute as I am not at all fat-phobic like I used to be and as the average person tends to be, but I know viewers would give her tons of criticism for "letting herself go."

Some others chefs have even been criticized for their weight gain (Nigella Lawson comes to mind), but I notice that in this industry there's still a bit more acceptance towards plus-sized bodies than in others, overall.

To name a few...
  • Guy Fieri
  • Sunny Anderson
  • Anne Burrell
  • Ina Garten
  • Paula Deen
  • Emeril Lagasse
  • Nigella Lawson
  • Jeffrey Steingarten
  • Mario Batali
  • Rachael Ray (her weight fluctuates)
  • Alex Guarnaschelli
 If you take a good look, all of the average-sized chefs have their chubby or pudgy moments as well. Not many are very thin naturally. You can tell most work out to keep up appearances. Even Bobby Flay has indeed been far more stockier than he is at the moment.

The reality and what viewers must realize is chefs and food hosts aren't on their shows showing America how to cook and how to masturbate at the same time. It's not meant to be any porn but food porn.

Also, who wants to see someone completely anorexic-looking cooking? Not me. You know that just doesn't look and seem right. I understand we want people to look somewhat attractive while they cook, even if that for some people means thinner, but seriously, these food channels aren't substitutes for the Playboy channel so I often find it incredibly ridiculous when certain food celebs are put down for any weight gain or any change in their physical appearance. It's often female hosts, too.

In the everyday life of a chef, it is best for chefs to be in shape. I am aware of this. Cooking in commercial kitchens in food establishments is hard work. You stand on your feet all day without many breaks, you are moving about doing a variety of chores and tasks, you are lifting and cleaning a lot of large-scale commercial equipment, you endure repetitive movements, and you must be quick, efficient, and agile. If you are out of shape, I can't see this kind of career being anything one would endure for long, if at all.

But, all foodies aren't commercial chefs and there are such people as fat chefs, cooks, and bakers who make magic in the kitchen and manage to hold their own very well.

I hear that bakers tend to be less lean than their savory cook counterparts. Not sure why this is or if this is really true. In some bakeries, activity can be quite hectic, especially if there are long lines and lots of little tasks to do with a multitude of pastries and desserts. I think some people might think that because baking is more exact in nature than cooking, standing for a longer time concentrating on the precision of design or a technique is far more common than in a savory kitchen. Point taken.

As a foodie, I realize that I need to keep a watch on my personal obsession with food, especially desserts.

Recently, I've gotten back into a daily gym schedule because as I bake often, I know that being around so much decadence is tempting. I have such a high tolerance for sweets and if I don't control myself, that passion turns topsy-turvy and like any good carousel ride, it's fun for the time being and you want to come back intermittently for the thrill, but you never want to stay on forever nonstop or find yourself strapped down on a candy-colored faux horse as the carousel moves into surreal warp speed until you are violently sick and put out commission completely.

OK...that was rather disturbing...

Well, anyway, what are your thoughts on the phrase: "Never Trust a Skinny Chef"?

Do you feel it has truth or merit?
Are you a foodie or a cook in any manner and if so, how do you personally relate to this phrase?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Slow Roast Break

What a wonderful idea for a cake...
In a week or so (hopefully a little less than a week), I will be back to regular posting, but I wanted to give you guys an official notice about my decision in taking a break. Don't worry, it's just a short one! So stay tuned, I will be back soon.

There are some family issues that I must tend to among other a few other things. While I am on break, I will certainly be planning more entries and future activities for this blog such as:
  • more documented baking adventures (I have lots of recipes in mind, also feel free to send me any ideas)
  • some cooking adventures (savory foods which you haven't seen here yet)
  • changes in layout and a possible move to Wordpress format 
  • new site title and logo design (have a couple of names in mind)
  • creative, food-related info session and random thoughts entries
  • updates and reviews (ingredients, bakeries)
If you wish to contact me about anything, take a look at my contact page on my site menu, located on the left sidebar. :)