What is it about chefs and their bikes? While I have my own little obsession every summer with the Tour de France, there are a whole lot of chefs right now who are peddling quite seriously. Matthew Accarrino of San Francisco’s SPQR is leading the peloton. He caught the cycling bug at an early age and learned all about TDF legends like Eddy Mercx and Greg Lemond. He spent his teenage years racing until a leg injury suffered off the bike forced Accarrino to consider other career options in his early 20s. That’s how he wound up cooking—and becoming a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2014.
Accarrino started riding again seriously about 4 years ago, and returned to racing in the last two years. Now he works with professional level coaches, is a sponsored racer and acts at “team chef" for a local elite team as well as for an American professional team called Holowesko/Citadel (founded by legendary cyclist George Hincapie). Nowadays, Accarrino is in the kitchen 60+ hours and on the bike 15 hours a week. Cooking for the teams (all while still running SPQR, natch), can mean making pre-race meals, on-bike snacks and recovery dinners. The first time he cooked for the pros on Hincapie’s team, the other racers didn’t really know who he was. After tasting his food, someone did a Google search and learned that they had a Michelin-starred chef in their midst. In the eyes of the riders, says Accarrino, “I went from being no one to 'Oh this guy is super legit.’” Once word got out that Accarrino was making delicious food on tour, riders from other teams and even race officials came by to get a taste.
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Next up for Accarrino is the Tour of Utah, one of the largest professional races in North America, for which he is acting as consulting chef. During the race he will work with race organizers and host cities to make sure the quality of the food is on par with the quality of the racers themselves. “My goal is to look for ways to elevate the concept and execution of food within the sport.” Seems pretty doable to me, especially with delicious on-bike snacks like these ham and egg sticky rice energy bars.