To refuel between 100-mile bike rides, Best New Chef 2002 Laurent Gras loads his healthy pastas and salads with the best summer vegetables.
The fact that his name crudely translates to “Fat Larry” isn’t lost on Laurent Gras, but this little bit of irony isn’t what motivates the French-born chef to stay in tip-top shape. An avid cyclist, the F&W Best New Chef 2002 bikes 40 miles every morning before going to work at his new seafood-focused restaurant, L2O, which opened this spring in Chicago. On weekends he goes on 100-mile rides, clocking up to 400 miles per week. To refuel between workouts, he cooks meals loaded with complex carbohydrates, vegetables and lean protein, such as farfalle tossed with summer vegetables; a salad that combines sautéed peas and radishes with artichokes and watercress; and tender striped bass steamed with ginger, lemon and fennel. The 43-year-old chef learned how to eat like an endurance athlete at a training camp run by Lance Armstrong’s former coach, Chris Carmichael. “I can burn 4,000 calories in one ride,” Gras says. “I need to eat before I get tired, or it’s too late.” At L2O, Gras extends this lesson to his staff by serving them light, energy-packed meals before shifts. “Cooking is also an endurance sport,” he says, “and you have to treat it like one.”