When award-winning Chef, Justin Cogley, won an entry to the Big Sur Marathon, he wasn’t a runner. He is now.
Justin Cogley had always been an athlete. But then life as a chef kind of got in the way. Until last year, when the award-winning Cogley, who is Executive Chef at Aubergine Restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel (in Carmel, California), won an entry into the Big Sur marathon. He wasn’t a runner. Encouraged (and heckled a bit) by his colleagues, the 36-year-old Cogley decided to do it.
With just a month to train, he bought some Newtons, did a Newton running clinic at the local running store, and started running. He managed to pull off a 3:50. He’s been running and racing (in Newtons) ever since.
Now, Cogley logs 50 miles a week, he started doing triathlons and longer distance running races, he’s lost 27 pounds, and he’s inspired several servers at the restaurant to take up running, too. He’s even started making breakfast (homemade granola, vanilla yogurt, and apricots) for the Treadmill’s twice-a-month running group.
Most recently, Cogley placed 39 out of 509 participants in the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K in San Francisco. The former professional figure skater, who spent four years touring the world with Disney On Ice before trading his skates for his chef’s hat, says, “It’s silly that I didn’t fall into another sport earlier than this year.”
Cogley, who travels a lot for work, says running has not only been a great way to see other cities around the world, it has helped him deal with nerves and stress, and it’s lead him to cut out his late-night after-work snacking—a common pitfall for a chef’s waistline.
Although his lifestyle hasn’t always been the healthiest, he says, for the most part his work has always been about lighter fare and pure flavors. “It’s about trying to find the purist flavors in every product.” He looks for ultra-seasonal ingredients to make things like local vegetable-based sauces and simple seafood dishes. He even uses teas, such as chamomile as a stock.
Some of his favorite dishes? Salmon slowly cooked in a tea-based stock. “Its super healthy, no oils. It’s not seared or baked, so it doesn’t get over-baked. It just stays in that liquid on top of the stove for about 15 minutes.” For breakfast, he goes for Amaranth porridge with apple and chopped chestnuts. “Amaranth is way healthier than quinoa.” And, here, he shared this delicious salad recipe (below), noting, “We use a lot of vinaigrettes made with juices, not oils.” Of course, he says, there’s always room for a little dark chocolate.
For more food inspiration you can follow Justin on Twitter or Instagram @JustinCogley.
Fennel and Persimmon Salad with parsley and apple
1/4 cup Persimmon Sauce (recipe to follow)
Persimmon Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
4 heads of Shaved fennel
1 bunch of Sliced chives
15 each Parsley leaves
4 each peeled shaved raw Chestnuts ( save for final plating)
1 ripe Fuyu Persimmon peeled and sliced into 16 slices
2 each Sliced Apple ( I prefer Honeycrisp variety)
Serves 4 people.
4 ripe persimmons
1 Tbsp lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup of Orange Juice
Combine all in a sauce pan and cook over low heat for 20 Min. Let cool and then blend in a blender. Reserve.
1 cup of OJ reduced over low heat in a saucepan until reduced by 1/2. Take off heat and add the reduced OJ to a small mixing bowl. Add 2 Tbsp of the Persimmon sauce ( from above) and season with salt to taste.
Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and mix with a whisk. It is ok for the sauce to be broken.
4 heads of fennel
Cut off the fennel tops and save some of the fronds for garnish. Shave the 4 heads of fennel thinly on a Japanese mandolin. If you don’t have a mandolin it is a real good kitchen tool to have. (Alternative: Slice the fennel thin.) Put the fennel in a bowl and season lightly with salt and olive oil to taste. Add the shaved chives and parsley leaves to the fennel mixture.
Slice apple thinly with a knife (half moon shapes) and toss with lemon juice and a touch of olive oil, Salt (Always Taste)
Combine all ingredients (fennel salad and raw apples) and toss lightly with the Persimmon vinaigrette. ( around 2-3 TBSP, depending on taste) Pick a nice large salad plate and add some of the persimmon sauce to the bottom. Add the salad on top of the puree. Add Sliced Raw Chestnuts. Season with some finishing salt. Also use any edible flowers if you have them.