I think that’s why I’m still cycling …
well, sometimes not, because the food
is atrocious at races. Cycling allows me
to travel around though, discover new
flavors, and also eat more, of course!
I started a degree in restaurant
management, and we touched on
everything in my studies: wine tasting,
service, cooking—of course, that is
a given—but also the management
aspects of the business as well.
We had a class called Ingredient
Discovery, or something like that,
where we would just taste everything.
We would have a sampling of like 20
different types of apples, and then
you see what you can use all the
different flavors for. One is bitter, one
is sweeter, which one is good for tarts,
which one is good for applesauce?
This and that. We would go through
most of the ingredients you can find.
It opened my eyes and made me
appreciate the possibilities around me.
I’ve got friends that come up with
some culinary challenges sometimes.
I’m always up for a new cooking
challenge. I’ve got a good friend
of my coach, Brian Walton, with
whom I’ve been working with for
about four years now. Every time I
go to Philly, this friend says, ‘I’ve got
some friends coming over tonight,
would you like to come over and,’
He’s afraid to ask, but basically
he’s saying can you cook for us?
Last time I was up there, he tells me,
‘Well, we’ll be about 25.’ I’m like,
‘Oh, okay.’ Here you go, 25 people. I
had no recipes. I improvised a meal
for 25 people, which is always a good
challenge, because you’ve got to build
a good meal, mind your serving time,
but also not explode your budget.
One of my favorite memories was
with the Kodak Gallery team. They
used to call our integration activities
we had with the team Beer Camp,
because we would meet at the Sierra
Nevada brewery for a week, which
basically ended up in everyone
drinking a lot of beer, because it
was December. One of the main
activities was on the last day: we had
to cook a meal from the kitchen of
the restaurant of the brewery for the
entire team (about 12 or 13 riders), a
few sponsors, and staff—which made
about 20-25 people all told. The guys
all laughed it off, ‘Ah, let’s do like last
year.’ I think they did fajitas. I looked
at them, and I started laughing, and
I was like, ‘No, I’ll come up with a
menu. What’s the budget?’
We ended up doing seared tuna
with pilaf rice. We had a warm
salad, and as a starter we had
ratatouille with goat cheese—all
made from scratch. At the beginning,
the guys were all incredulous:
“Are you sure we can do this?”
Of course we could. It was pretty
fun, because I was sort of the man in
charge of the kitchen. I told them what
to do, when to do it, and how to do it.
It turned out really well.
Is cooking something you’re leaning
towards after racing? Yeah, I think I’ll
head back to that. I’m actually missing
it at the moment. I’m not often home,
so I don’t get to cook much. Cooking
for one isn’t as challenging or as
satisfying as cooking for a restaurant
or a group of people, so once in a while
I’ll have people over.
We’ll have a good meal those nights,
but most of the time, I’m here for three
or four days, so it ends up with me
cooking for myself, which is not that
exciting. If I can get back into cooking
in earnest, I think the first thing I
will do is return to my studies around
cooking. I love wine as well. I’m
tasting some Spanish wine now, but
I’m not as experienced at it as I could
be. I’m here for racing, so I have to be
focused. I cannot have a half bottle of
wine every night. Stuff like that.
I’d like to try to gain some cooking
experience after my career, maybe
try to find some restaurants where
I can actually work. As another
possibility, maybe I could stay around
cycling and be a chef for a team. I
would like to build proper meals for
cyclists. Sometimes a chef is needed,
especially at certain races where the
hotel serves you pasta and a burnt
piece of poultry, where you can’t even
say if it’s turkey or chicken. I don’t
know if you have ever been to France
to race, but even the French are like,
‘This is gross. This is disgusting.’
They overcook the pasta so badly you
need a spoon to eat it.
With bad food in mind, do you have
a meal or some foods that stand out
as your favorites? Everything. I like
to experiment. I like to try different
things. Here in Spain, I love the tapas.
All of the food is extremely fresh, and
the ingredients are just simple. It’s
local. They have great markets, and
three times a week, I can grab fruits
and vegetables, and I cook with that.
I’m getting more and more into
fish. They cook a lot of cuttlefish
here in Girona, and I’m really
falling in love with that.
I love the simplicity. The other day in
a restaurant, I had an amazing salad,
which was just onions and tomatoes
We ended up doing seared tuna with pilaf rice.
We had a warm salad, and as a starter we had
ratatouille with goat cheese—all made from scratch. “ ”