To his frittata loving, foodie fanbase, Geoffrey Zakarian is the mild-mannered Food Network personality and regular morning talk-show expert chef. However, if you aren’t one of Zakarian’s near-million social media followers, you may do a double take when the 59-year-old ditches his signature Tom Ford for his Rhone workout gear and begins slamming battle ropes and medicine balls with as much energy and flair as he does preparing and presenting his Thanksgiving cornbread stuffing.
The owner of Times Square’s swanky Lamb’s Club leads a 24-7 Iron Chef lifestyle — from his role on the popular Food Network show, to his daily hardcore iron-pumping workout regimen, even to his new signature QVC line of cast-iron cookware in partnership with Dash (“First of its kind, it’s nonstick.,” he says). Pushing 60, and with three young kids, Zakarian is only getting stronger. In fact Zakarian’s only age tell may be his music genre flowing through his gym’s soundsystem. “My favorite band is Bad Company,” Zakarian says. “Any classic rock works. I just can’t really listen to today’s music.”
Staying fit and cooking fit is the new approach for even old-school chefs like Zakarian, who along with other famous fit food masters such as Robert Irvine and Bobby Flay are changing the high-calorie, high-carb Chef Boyardee stereotypes cooks once possessed.
“It’s a new paradigm now,” Zakarian says. “The saying used to be, ‘Never trust a skinny chef.’ Now you want to trust that skinny chef because he’s gonna show you how to eat properly and in healthy portions. It’s about balance now.”
Zakarian is all about balance — like balancing on a Bosu ball, which helps him physically prepare for those long hours of standing, bending, twisting, trying to satisfy the meal masses that fill his restaurant each night. Zakarian and his trainer focus a lot of their work on core stabilzation exercises. “It’s all about the core,” Zakarian says. Rope slams, front deltoid raises done with a Bosu Ball fill part of his five-day-a-week near-hourlong routine. “It doesn’t look like much, but after 30 seconds, your arms hurt, your gut, then your legs. It’s all about dynamic work. It adds up to a more efficient you. If you do it right, it should only take an hour [a day].
His favorite moves for a Iron-clad core: hollow-body holds — a gymnast’s staple in which you lie on the floor and lift both legs and shouders off the floow — along with knee raises, and of course, plank holds.
“It’s like the old Chinese proverb: You’re only as old as your spine,” Zakarian says. “So you’ve got to keep your back and core together.”
Zakarian’s Squash Blossom and Tomato Frittata recipe
To look like a fit chef, Zakarian eats like an Iron Chef as well, which means lots of protein. “Usually I’ll have a piece of tuna, depending on the time of day. But I eat a ton of eggs. Whole eggs, egg whites, eggs are great. They make a great meal.”
For that perfect post-workout protein high, Zakarian shares his famous Squash Blossom and Tomato Frittata recipe, which Zakarian of course recommends preparing in his new cookware. “The eggs won’t stick,” he says. “You can wipe it out with a wet rag.”
Squash Blossom & Tomato Frittata
Yields 1- 13-by-9-inch Pan (approx. 12 servings)
4 Medium Diced Yellow and Green Zucchini
3 tbsp shallot, diced
1 tbsp garlic, diced
8 pieces, squash blossoms
1 tbsp basil, roughly chopped
1 tbsp tarragon, roughly chopped
1-15 Confit cherry tomatoes
½ cup fresh Ricotta
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 oz Butter
¼ Cup crème fraiche
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees and turn on the broiler.
2. Melt the butter in the Cast Iron Pan until VERY lightly browned.
3. Add the zucchini and sauté until lightly colored.
4. Add the garlic and shallot and cook over medium heat until translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Put the eggs, crème fraiche, salt and pepper into a large bowl and whip by hand for 3-4 minutes until the eggs are a lighter shade of yellow and a little foamy.
6. Pour the eggs in the skillet and stir very often with a rubber spatula.
7. When the eggs are half cooked, remove the pan from the fire and add the basil, tarragon and 4 of the squash blossoms that have been cut into large pieces.
8. Place the tomatoes and small spoonfuls of the ricotta around the top of the frittata.
9. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
10. Remove when the eggs are almost fully set and add sprinkle the parmesan over the top.
11. Place under the broiler until the top is lightly browned.
12. Let the frittata rest for 10 minutes, cut in to squares and serve.
The macros (per serving)