images courtesy of Davey Wilson
The work of a chef is not for the faint of heart. The hours are long, the conditions sometimes uncomfortable; we typically work in very warm spaces, very cold spaces, we stand all day tasting, tasting, tasting. We hunch, and lean, and focus on the prep tables before us to be sure our dishes are plated just right. We complete repetitive motions for hours on end; chopping, plucking, slicing. Our hands are typically beaten up a bit, but we’re very hearty souls, quick to collaborate, technical in our troubleshooting, determined to execute on time and with grace.
So it may be logical, then, that when a group of us put our minds to tackle a challenge as big as ChefsCycle – a 3-day/300-mile cycling event between Carmel, California and Santa Barbara, with the intention of raising awareness and $1 million dollars to help NoKidHungry – there was little chance that we wouldn’t succeed; serving up the goal of changing lives one plate, one pedal stroke, at a time.
I heard about the ride from my friend, decorated chef Jeff; while I don’t know how he came to find me I do know that our friendship was easy to forge because there aren’t many chefs who love to ride bikes – fast and far – as we do. There aren’t many chefs out there so crazy-excited to share the sport, (and all the inspirational ways its changed us as cooks, as eaters, and as people in the world) as we are.
And so, we found ourselves in California, out of the kitchen and on bikes with this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy, this gal and this guy too (among others) in effort to raise funds and awareness for NoKidHungry; a cause we’re all incredibly proud to support. The idea that 1 in every 5 children in the United States is food insecure (meaning, they don’t know where their next meal will come from,) is not an acceptable truth in our minds. When I was a little girl – and even still now – I wake up eager to peek into the kitchen to see what’s for breakfast; that first meal of the day fuels my mind, inspires me, and ensures that I not only survive the day but thrive in it. With this crew as company and compatriots, I know I’m not alone in saying that all of America’s children deserve this same shot and that, as chefs, we have no other job but to make sure that we’re serving up healthy food, simply, to our communities. We’re the guardians of well-being in this way.
Raising $1 million dollars (!!) wasn’t all we achieved as we spun through Central California, like a lively pirate crew, muscle-ing our way over climbs, through dust, telling dirty jokes and giving jabs that some how let one another know we were not alone – we were navigating our challenging sea – together.
We also affected a cause that I’m equally excited to throw my weight into. ChefsCycle as a movement made a statement to our industry about active lifestyles. The career of a chef may have some challenging physical demands, but we proved that an active lifestyle – one that positively impacts the art that we create in the kitchen – is not only possible, but necessary and obtainable. Not every chef on ChefsCycle is an avid cyclist, in fact on the contrary. Most of the riders who tackled and succeeded on the ride are just starting to discover how transformational the bike can be; for bodies, for relationships, for communities, for mindsets. This ride, this cause, has the propensity to change our industry. In seeing these new riders reach new distances, tackle obstacles along a route to make change for others in the world and determined to live healthy lives, my dedication to this cause, my pride as a ChefsCycle rider, grew ten-fold.
I don’t know where the journey to next years’ ride will take us, but I know I’ve forged some forever-friendships with this crew of chefs as determined as I am to show the ways that the culinary + cycling worlds collide. Not only because bike rides make food taste better, but because bike rides make us think about food in a different way. Bikes connect us to all of our senses and that makes us better chefs, makes us more considerate about the plates we plan. Breaking bread is the same in so many was as sharing a bike ride; these things sustain us and they’re so simple to share.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this incredible effort a reality and congratulations to all riders – I look forward to seeing you all next year when our goals are bigger and our community has grown even more!