‘Cutthroat Kitchen’ winner, Army chef comes to Tampa

Fit Foodie Race photo
Fit Foodie Race photo

A retired Army combat veteran turned “Cutthroat Kitchen” winner will be in Tampa this weekend to promote healthy eating. Chef Rene J. Marquis will be preparing food for runners competing in the inaugural Tampa Fit Foodie Race 15K and 5K events.

“It’s a fundraiser and it promotes food service, culinary arts,” Marquis said. “Anytime you can put food and racing together, I think it’s a win-win.

Marquis, who won the season one, episode seven episode of “Cutthroat Kitchen,” is going to prepare a post-race superfood salad. It will be cold and refreshing on what is likely to be a hot day.

The chef talked with News Channel 8 ahead of the Fit Foodie event. “Every time that I put food on the plate, it’s a competition,” Marquis said. “If the plate comes back empty you know that you’ve won.

He said people often don’t have the time to make healthy, nutritious food. Parents work and then children have extracurricular activities.

“By the time that they actually get to the dinner table … they don’t have time to spend on making a great meal,” Marquis said.

He pointed out there are tons of healthy recipes online. People are already spending their time on their phones.

Instead of surfing Facebook, download recipes, he encouraged. Or use a website that lets you enter ingredients in your home and gives you a recipe you can make without going to the store. Consider Supercook or MyFridgeFood.

“The thing to do is to do some preparations in advance,” Marquis added.

Cook the night before or morning of instead of trying to figure a meal out late in the day. For instance, he recommended, marinate a chicken at night. Then you can easily cook it when you get home.

Marquis himself became involved with cooking during high school. He worked in a Chinese restaurant in Maine, and recounted memories of cold winter days. “Being in the kitchen was a great place to be. It was nice and warm,” he said.

Advice for runners and athletes

Runners and athletes need to “do their homework,” Marquis said.

Figure out what foods work for you, he encouraged. “People know what their bodies need and want,” Marquis said.

Make sure you’re well-nourished and hydrated, he said. Consider your vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates. Recovery after the race is just as important, Marquis added.

Marquis joined the Army in 1993 and worked as captain of the United States Army Culinary Arts Team. The retired combat veteran of 22 years three times attended the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany.

“The Army moves on its belly and if there’s no food or fuel in the tank, the Army’s not going,” he said.

Food is also a morale builder in the Army. It keeps the troops happy and healthy.

Here are Marquis’ healthy eating tips:
  • Go to the farmer’s market, or grow your own vegetables and herbs.
  • If you’re at the grocery store, stay in the outside aisles with fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood. The middle of the store contains prepared foods. “I think fresh should be the first choice,” Marquis said.
  • Look to make your own food. For instance, make fresh pasta instead of buying a packaged option.
  • Learn to cook fresh vegetables, such as beets or spinach. Look for demonstrations on YouTube.
  • Moderation. Eat good foods in moderation.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day.

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