training for the running portion of the triathlon. That much
he could handle, despite the fact that “I couldn’t walk a
mile, much less run a mile.” But swimming he had to learn
from scratch: Di Spirito had been afraid to go past his neck
in the water, until he began training for his first triathlon.
And then there was the question of diet. “I wasn’t about
to eat peanut butter on whole wheat six times again,” he
says. “And when I started training it was summer—there
was no way I was going to give up lobster bisque for a summer.” So Di Spirito did what he does best: He went back to
the kitchen and took his 1,600-calorie bisque recipe and
got it down to one-tenth of the calories.
“If you can believe it, it was an improvement,” he says,
noting that all the fat and carbs had been hiding the briny
zip of the lobster. A whole new way of cooking began to
organically emerge from his new fitness regimen.
“When I started, no one wanted a diet book from a
chef, and no chef wanted to be in a diet book,” he says.
“But in a few years everything has changed. Even chefs
known for the most indulgent food, like Paula Deen”—
mistress of Southern-fried everything, who recently
acknowledged she’d been diagnosed with diabetes—
“have to be talking about healthy food now.” Of course,
not every chef is currently training for an Iron Man.