Talking With: Chef Robert Irvine

With more than 25 years in the culinary profession, Chef Robert Irvine has cooked his way around the world and back numerous times. Possibly best known as the host of the Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible, he recently launched Robert Irvine Magazine to serve as a guide to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Produced 10 issues per year, the online publication focuses on exercise, healthy eating and motivation. Additionally, highlighting his support for the military, the magazine will often feature inspirational stories about veterans and their families. He recently established a non-profit organization to support military personnel and their families and will soon become the first celebrity chef to open a restaurant — Chef Robert Irvine’s Fresh Kitchen — at the Pentagon. Irvine just announced he is teaming with Tropicana Las Vegas to open his first signature restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip.  Emphasizing his focus on fitness, during the announcement he made his entrance by rappelling 22 stories (220 feet) down the exterior of the Tropicana hotel!

Currently on tour with a new, interactive live show, Chef Irvine last year launched Robert Irvine Foods,  a nutritionally improved line of food products. 

The first issue of Robert Irvine Magazine is available as a free download at

For additional information on Chef Irvine, visit

Chef Irvine addressed the issues of nutrition and fitness in the restaurant workplace with Modern Restaurant Management magazine.

What recommendations do you have for busy chefs/restaurant workers who want to pay attention to their own health and wellness via diet and exercise?

For eating healthy you need to think about your meals ahead of time. You have to have breakfast in the morning. If you don’t have much time, then eat instant oatmeal. It’ll stay in your stomach for two hours. When you’re running around with no food in your stomach, your blood sugar drops, you feel terrible and you get headaches. Two hours after that you can have eggs, whole-wheat toast, things like that. And every two to three hours from then you eat something. Small meals keep the metabolism revved up, keep energy levels high, and you won’t get tired like you do from a big meal. As you know, in the restaurant business you do all your work on your feet. You can’t be effective if you’re sluggish.

I would also suggest you chop up your workouts. I personally will do 30-minutes in the morning then 30-minutes later in the day if I don’t have a full hour during the day. When I’m on the road, I’ll break my exercise into a cardio session and a weights session.

Why do you feel it’s important for chefs/restaurant workers to put a focus on diet and exercise?

You can’t expect to be at your best in any profession if you don’t take care of your own well-being. Running a restaurant or a kitchen is stressful business, and being in optimal health is the best way to manage that stress. A lot of chefs and restaurants manage the stress with temporary—and incredibly unhealthy—habits like smoking or drinking. It takes a lot of willpower to avoid these kinds of vices in an environment where most people partake, but you’ve got to do it. If not for your own health, but for the simple fact that your work—the food you present to your customers—is actually going to be better.

Robert Irvine Magazine[3]

What tips do you have for people surrounded by food all day and night to avoid the temptation of overeating?

Just as I wouldn’t go grocery shopping when you’re starving, I would never go in the kitchen for a shift with an empty stomach. You’ll drive yourself crazy and break down quickly and binge on what you’re cooking. You don’t have a chance at eating in moderation or eating a sensible portion if you let yourself get famished. Eat before your shift, and, if you’ve got a long shift, prepare something healthy beforehand that you can eat quickly while at work. Green shakes and smoothies are great for this.

With your hectic schedule, how do you incorporate healthy eating and exercise into your routine?

I spend 330 days a year on the road. There’s always a gym nearby, and if there isn’t I will do workouts in my hotel room. I’ve got 40 people on my team – cameras, audio, production staff– and a lot of them are in the gym with me every morning working out at 5 a.m. The only time I’m not working out at 5 a.m. is when I’m home. Then I’ll sleep in a little and do the workout in the afternoon.

Why do you feel it’s important for chefs and others in the restaurant industry to consider healthy dishes when planning a menu?

Considering healthy dishes is a must. People are educating themselves on healthy eating and are rightly concerned about what they’re putting in their bodies. Restaurants may be worried about the raised costs of fresh ingredients, but people will always pay for quality.

Do you find it encouraging that “clean” eating appears to be more than just a passing trend with diners very interested in knowing what is in the food they are eating and where it come from? Why?

It is very encouraging to see people taking their health into consideration. The recent changes over the past few years have made it much easier for individuals to stay healthy and be able to enjoy their food in the process.