We spoke to prolific food blogger and cookbook author Tieghan Gerard after her brother won gold.
Seventeen-year-old Red Gerard raced down the slopes at the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games last Saturday to become the youngest ever Olympic gold medalist in snowboarding, and his sister—blogger and cookbook author Tieghan Gerard—was there to see it.
"I would not have missed it for the world," Gerard tells Food & Wine. "Watching Red compete in the Olympics and then win gold will be one of my greatest memories. All I can really say is that it felt surreal and beyond amazing. I'm so very happy for him."
The feeling, Gerard says, is mutual among her and her seven siblings, all of whom traveled to South Korea—along with their mother, four cousins, four friends and one boyfriend—to support Red. "It was a wreck," she laughs, "but 18 of us made it. Having everyone there was incredible." But it wasn't exactly a surprise, she adds.
"The thing about my family is that all seven of us kids are not only siblings, but best friends too," Gerard explains. "Watching him achieve something so many [people] dream of was truly one of the best days [I've ever had] and one I will never forget."
Gerard and Red remain close, and she remembers fondly what he was like a young child: He was a voracious snowboarder at just two years old, she says. But he was also a typical kid: "Red has always been an energetic child, so growing up with him was fun," Gerard says. "He'd never sit still longer than five minutes and was consistently jumping off furniture, making messes, and just always having fun."
He was also, Gerard reveals, a picky eater. "Growing up, he loved all the typical kid food—pizza, pasta, chicken, bagels—but nothing too fancy," she recalls. "He has always loved fruits and, oddly, salad too." But his palette has evolved—and become more adventurous—in recent years. "His two favorite foods are sushi and my recipe for potato chip chicken from my cookbook Half Baked Harvest," she says. "He also loves coffee and has a major sweet tooth— he loves brownies, Special K-Bars, and any kind of candy. And he's never turned down avocado toast with sea salt and lemon."
(Before he graduated to avocado toast—when he was just a tot—Red was prone to falling asleep at the table. "Red has fallen asleep in his plate of food on multiple occasions," laughs Gerard. "Think face in spaghetti, kid sleeping soundly.")
Gerard says that Red has, for his entire life, lived and breathed snowboarding. "Red has been snowboarding since he was two years old, so this literally is who Red is," she says. But, "snowboarding has never been about winning medals for Red—it's always been about going out on the hill, having fun, and putting down the best run he can. I think that's what has taken him so far in the sport. He never lost sight of why he loves snowboarding in the first place and never let go of the fun side."
Despite all his hard work, and his new gold medal, "he's still very much a teenager and I think that is how he is always able to keep things fun and not so serious," Gerard says. "His ability to look at things in a fun, laid-back way is truly awesome. He is one of those kids that puts a smile on your face anytime he walks into a room."
She continues, "That's my favorite things about Red—no matter what kind of mood you are in, if Red walks into the room, you are going to smile. He has an ease about him that makes things relaxed and fun. His energy is contagious and he is one of the kindest and most polite teenagers you will ever meet."