When I think about it, I have been cooking for athletes since 2006. The idea of cooking and being a chef, in my life, is incredible. I cant think of anything else that has brought me to more beautiful, amazing places on this earth. More importantly, my love for great food, and the desire to be a chef, has introduced me to some of the most amazing people I will ever meet. Starting with dinner parties during college with friends of all kinds to working professionally for the globally acclaimed training company The Cycling House, cooking for cyclists, triathletes, and runners on the Spanish Island of Mallorca; food, the very thing that drives our bodies every day, has provided a stream of adventure in my growing, young career as a chef.
This short story must go back a bit further than 2006 however. The concept of art, as a medium, practice, or ritual if you will; I was born with an innate understanding of how it works. My mind visualizes things, needs to see it in person, and work with it. Growing up, my teachers referred to it as, "Zander is a hands on learner." Yes, they were correct, what they didn't fully grasp is my deeper understanding of complex shapes, design, and detail. I remember a moment in high school, when my drawing teacher told me I would receive a lower grade on my assignment because my drawing was done without a background... "A lower grade," I said, "you have to be kidding me..." Art is design, it's what you see, not someone else's point of view. This is why art is so magical, so creative, and always evolving. Another moment in time, if I may... During a 3 year stint in boarding school, in Lakeville, CT, I was submerged into a tightly knit learning environment. I lived at school, folks from the East Coast can get this, as it was normal to live at school at such a young age there. However, although there were struggles, trouble, homework, and maybe even a few visits to the principles office, I learned a lifetime of lessons. Ones that have brought me to where I am today. The best part about this chapter of my life, is I actually visited the principles office every morning!! He was my advisor, and I could not think of anyone more instrumental in my life at that moment in time. I pushed more buttons than I should have, but it was for good reason, and he pushed right back. I was never on watch, I was always being watched, and having learned from that experience, is something I will never forget. Thank you Mr. Dunham!!
Where am I going with this you might ask... Well, there was another teacher at this boarding school who made an impact on me I will never exchange either. John Buck, my art teacher, lacrosse coach, and someone who has lead, softly, in my life since those growth years at The Indian Mountain School. He taught us to draw, sculpt, and paint like you meant it. Use art as a form of expression, have fun with it. Since, I have brought this outlook on genre, mediums, and the right side of my brain to so many endeavors in my life. The countless number of thank you's to those who have influenced me, as an artist, and now a chef... I have lost count.
To return to my proposed thought here, in this blog post, cooking for athletes started a long time ago. Cooking as an art began to influence my life over 10 years ago, and it has evolved into my career path. Thank you to all the hungry, h-angry, always starving athletes who I have cooked for from NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) courses to cocktail parties, training camps to Colorado beer festival fundraisers, the journey has been my pleasure. It is you all, who have influenced my desire to be the best chef I can be, and continue to grow. If you had asked me 4 years ago if I would ever consider starting my own company, as a private chef, I would have responded, "heck no! That sounds like a headache." Well, obviously I have even proved myself wrong, and since have gone ahead and launched CHEF Z Private Chef and Catering Services. As an active community member, no matter where I live, I seek to bring the farm to YOUR table. I love to cook for active people, athletes of all sports, and individuals who continue to push their bodies to the extreme. I love it because it holds no boundaries, its expressive, just like sport. Their are tactics involved, timing needs to right on, and when you feel you have made a bold move, go with it. No matter what sport you're involved in, the food remains the same. Healthy, nutritious, fresh, sweet and spicy, LOCAL... Recently, following an interesting conversation with a woman who directs a group called, Chefs Collaborative , I realized the importance of sustainability from a performance perspective and how it can relate to the longevity of a local food shed. Chef's are a direct expression of a regions food security, and that food sheds ability to remain in tact and support the growing population. A chef, or a group of chefs, we have the ability to influence change in the market place. Where is your food coming from? What are you eating? Who grew it? And, lastly, why, if you aren't already, eating food grown close to your home? These are major questions, ones that seem to have been answered in all of our lives at some point. However, as a chef, and person who desires to make change in the State of Colorado, ask yourself these questions one more time... Furthermore, as an athlete, when considering your performance and its sustainability over a long course of time, why not consider your source of food products to be similar to your decision when taking care of your body. As a private chef, one who seeks to help and maintain the kind of sustainability athletes of all kinds need to perform, I consider the best possible foods available, in order to provide the best nutrients for my clients. Working together makes this easier, especially if your busy training for an event that demands your 100% attention. So, I have been cooking for athletes since 2006, however, what I have really been doing is honing in on my attention as a chef, and the impact I can make on any athletes or active humans life. CHEF Z brings the fire when it comes to training meals, pre and post workout fuels. I look forward to cooking with you soon!