Food trucks have been the signature food trend in Denver for the past year, but across the Atlantic Ocean a Colorado native is mastering an entirely different kind of mobile gastronomy. Sean Fowler, formerly the chef at Cucina Leone and Ranelles, mans a mobile kitchen and cooks team meals and snacks for Boulder-based Garmin-Cervelo, which is leading the Tour de France through five stages.
Fowler, who owns El Raco d'Urus, a restaurant in the Spanish Pyrenees, is charged with providing between 5,000 and 8,000 calories' worth of nutritious, appetizing food per rider each day. To that end, he focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, select lean protein and gluten-moderate carbohydrates to fuel riders through the three-week, 2,000-mile course.
The theory behind this diet is that it provides plenty of energy-rich carbohydrates without the inflammatory effects of wheat gluten. Fowler's pancakes, for example, are made with whole grain spelt flour, oat flour and rice flour. The team's diet is also packed with fruit, particularly those high in antioxidants, such as cherries and blueberries. A typical smoothie that team members drink to start the day includes grapefruit, oranges, strawberries, bananas and peaches. The team ingests few dairy or soy products, opting instead for rice or almond milk more often.
According to a New York Times story published during the 2009 Tour, the nine riders for Garmin-Cervelo (then Garmin-Slipstream) ate at Fowler's restaurant during training and hired him on the spot to be the team chef.
Now Fowler packs up his gear and loads it into the mobile home he uses to follow the race. He buys fresh produce daily, and inspects the hotel kitchen where the team will be staying. If the kitchen is not up to his standards of cleanliness, he will cook in the mobile kitchen, the Times reports.
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Teams that don't hire a chef are left to eat hotel food. So while other athletes are eating questionable pasta, the nine riders under Fowler's watch are feasting on roasted garlic risotto, paella and white peach cobbler.
The gluten-moderate approach doesn't mean that Garmin-Cervelo riders are skipping bread and pasta entirely. Thor Hushovd, who is currently leading the Tour, told Esquire that his favorite on-bike snack is still a ham-and-cheese sandwich, but a typical day of eating for him is heavy on rice, lean proteins, vegetables and seemingly every product CLIF makes.
Fowler has plenty of snacks ready for the riders during the race, as well as a post-stage meal as soon as they get off their bikes, and a large dinner that will help them sleep, along with an energy-fortifying breakfast the next day. That's a lot to juggle from a souped-up mobile home, but if current standings hold, Fowler will have fueled a Tour de France champion.