How a Slimmed-Down Chef Stays Thin

After losing weight, chef Jan Birnbaum stays healthy with daily workouts and delicious, oven-roasted dishes like the ones at his new restaurant.

A few years ago, chef Jan Birnbaum decided to commit himself to a healthier life, shedding almost half of his body weight and reconstructing his day-to-day routine to include exercise and frequent nutritious snacks. "I can't believe I could even walk across the room before," he says. "It was like watching a guy carry a 50-pound sack of potatoes—but I was carrying four of those." In addition to gaining stamina and energy, Birnbaum's favorite thing about his new body is the anonymity it provides. "I enjoy not standing out in a crowd," he says. "I can be everybody, anybody and nobody at any given time." Now, he's giving the steak-house concept a healthy makeover with Epic Roasthouse in San Francisco, a project he created with restaurateur Pat Kuleto. "There was a time when you went to a steak house and put your diet aside," Birnbaum says. "Epic is different; it's about giving people healthy options." To his menu he adds a tangy chicory salad, an herb-crusted pork loin and oven-roasted fries. Indeed, Birnbaum prefers a hot oven to a fryer: "Roasting is one of the most healthful ways to cook," he says. "You don't need to drop something in trans fats to make it crispy."

PUBLISHED November 2007