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Anyone who thinks jocks don't know great food hasn't met chef Trey Foshee. Born in Hawaii, Foshee grew up a dedicated surfer; he started cooking to pay for new surfboards and chose jobs because of their proximity to beaches with good waves. But in 1997, at age 31, he found himself landlocked at Utah's Sundance resort, Robert Redford's idyllic mountain retreat. With no alternative, he tried snowboarding--and loved it. "Once I'm out of my chef's jacket, it's only one and a half minutes to the lift," he says. When he's in the kitchen, he prepares plenty of T-bone steaks and macaroni and cheese for people coming off the slopes, but he himself prefers leaner dishes that won't weigh him down. "If it's a choice between chicken and duck, I'll always choose chicken," he says.

With the Winter Olympics coming to Utah in 2002, Foshee (one of F&W's Best New Chefs of 1998) jumped at the chance to make high-performance food for the U.S. Halfpipe Snowboard Team--the athletes who do high-flying flips. Cooking for America's top snowboarders is not easy when the team ranges from hard-core vegetarians to self-confessed "sugar heads" like Rob Kingwill, 23, who won the prestigious 1998 U.S. Open on a diet of Starburst candies and Mountain Dew. But Kingwill knows he has to follow the team nutritionist's recommendations to maintain his edge and 6 percent body fat: "I eat a ton of sugar for quick energy when I compete, but at meals I pound down carbohydrates and protein."

The snowboarders were eager to try Foshee's food, in part because of their limited choices on the road. "There's usually no place to get anything healthy--there's a bar, fast food or a vending machine," says Luke Wynen, 21, winner of the 1997 Australian Open. Peter Foley, the head snowboarding coach, adds, "What they eat depends on where they are. In Italy, it's great: lots of pasta and carbos. But in Austria, it's a whole lot of Wiener schnitzel, which means a whole lot of McDonald's."

The challenge, as Foshee saw it, was to prepare dishes that were both nutritious and enticing. "I know the team was expecting some geek in a tall white hat who uses fancy toothpicks to dress up lamb chops," he says. He opted for lean, protein-rich ingredients like tuna steaks, which help the body's growth, and combined them with potatoes and beans, which are rich in the complex carbohydrates that are the body's primary source of fuel. He avoided unhealthful saturated fats.

To replace the candy bars that snowboarders often snack on between runs, Foshee wrapped up dried-fruit and multigrain mountain bars and filled thermoses with hot ginger-spiked lemon tea. ("Awesome. I'd make this on tour; I need that vitamin C," Kingwill raved.) Foshee also prepared a snappy Jerusalem artichoke hummus with spicy oil for the snowboarders to eat when they came in from the cold. "Your recovery time is much faster if you eat within two hours of strenuous activity," notes Jerry Warren, Sundance's director of skiing and mountain recreation and a former coach of the coaches of the U.S. Olympic ski team. Foshee then served up satisfying main courses, ranging from plates of juicy pork loin with caramelized apple wedges to bowls of comforting South American chicken and squash stew, and hearty side dishes like a savory lentil salad with mint-marinated feta.

"Olympic athletes have to eat healthfully if they want to stay at their level or improve," Warren says. "And even if you're not an elite athlete, you should eat like one." It's easy when the food is this delicious. After finishing off Foshee's hummus, Wynen said, "His food is the best. I've got to learn to cook like that."

Published January 1999
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