Brian Boitano Answers Your Questions!

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Brian Boitano's new show, What Would Brian Boitano Make? premieres this Sunday! He was just in town on a media blitz, and we caught up with him for a quick chat. As promised, we asked your burning questions.

FN DISH: Everyone knows you as a skater. Why the jump to a cooking show?

BB: Before the Olympics I was on a strict regimen with a limited diet. I always dreamed of what I would make and what I would eat after the Olympics. After I won, I started having friends over and entertaining a lot, and it just grew from there. I’m actually very lucky because food and skating are my two loves. I’m still skating full time and juggling that with a show is ideal.

FN DISH: So your love for cooking grew out of your passion for skating?

BB: Cooking really did grow out of being a skater, and the love for food certainly was there. It really helps that skating is very similar to creating recipes. The way you layer different aspects of a program is the same way you layer different flavors in a recipe.

FN DISH: How so?

BB: For me, creating a recipe is a form of choreography. I cook by layering different tastes - like sweet and salty - and different flavor complexities. Cooking is very similar to skating in that, if you’re doing a program you need a layer of jumping, a layer of spinning, and then finally a layer of emotion. Skating is all about finding the balance of layers, just like cooking.

FN DISH: Are you ready for some questions from our fans?

BB: Absolutely!

FN Dish: Here’s one from Robin Koury: “Having traveled the world as an athlete what locale's cuisine has inspired you the most and why?”

BB: Japan definitely had the biggest impact on me. I love those flavors. Funny story about my first time with sushi: I was 19 years old and had it for the first time. You know how the ginger is sliced very thinly? Well, I thought that it was turkey, so I put the whole thing in my mouth. It was the worst thing I’ve ever tasted, so I had to regroup and discover sushi again.

FN DISH: Aloha wants to know, “Who is your favorite Food Network Chef?”

BB: Ina Garten and Tyler Florence. Hands down. They line up with my theory of food, which is to keep it really simple. I think that accessibility is really important. If it’s something my friends can’t make, it’s not fun for me.

FN DISH: Kirsten asks, "Do you cook with the same precision, discipline and technique you're so famous for on the ice, or do you feel liberated in the kitchen -- throwing things together and experimenting?"

BB: I feel more like experimenting when I’m in the kitchen. I’m not like that at all when it comes to skating. I’m very strict and rigid. So I’d say I’m strict on the ice and carefree in the kitchen.

FN DISH: Tina Z wants to know what it takes to win a gold medal in the kitchen.

BB: Wow! I can’t even imagine. Chefs go to school for years and years and years and do the same thing that I did with skating in terms of a strict training regimen. But I’m a self-trained home cook and definitely don’t want people to think that I’m an Olympian in the kitchen. I’ve gotten to a place where I think I’m a pretty good home cook, and it’s all about honing that and always striving to be better.

FN DISH: And finally, AM Cook asks, “If you had to pick one activity, would it be skating or cooking?”

BB: Can I install ice in my kitchen and skate while I’m cooking?

FN Dish: Well played!
Be sure to watch What Would Brian Boitano Make? Sundays at 1pm/12c.

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Brian Boitano Bio

Few athletes have enjoyed the artistic and popular success that figure skater Brian Boitano has achieved since winning the gold medal for the United States at the 1988 Winter Olympics Games in Calgary, Canada. Brian’s skating is characterized by power, precision, consistency and emotion. He created and routinely performs his signature jump, the Tano Triple, so difficult it has rarely been completed by anyone else. In competitions and exhibitions, Brian continues to raise the level of skating to new heights. He was the first American male athlete to have his own network television special, Canvas of Ice, which aired worldwide and was seen nationally on the ABC Network. The critically acclaimed special won awards in the International Film and Television Festival of New York and the Chicago International Film Festival. Brian was an Olympic alternate in 1980 and a member of the ’84, ’88 and ’94 U.S. Olympic teams. After turning professional in 1988, Brian won six world professional titles, placing first and scoring perfect 10s in each of 10 consecutive professional championships. As a professional, he won the first 20 out of the 24 competitions he entered, a record unmatched in the history of skating. He has taken a leadership role among professional skaters and his efforts have changed the face of professional skating, raising its standard beyond any level seen in the sport’s history. Brian won a prime-time Emmy Award, television’s highest honor, for his starring role in the HBO movie Carmen on Ice. He and fellow Olympic gold medalist Katarina Witt toured North America in three successful ice shows: Skating, Skating II and Skating ’92, which were broadcast on network TV. In 1994, he starred in Nutcracker on Ice with Oksana Baiul and Viktor Petrenko. For 15 years he toured with Champions On Ice around the country, headlining 25 national tours. Brian has provided expert commentary on televised skating shows for ABC, NBC and Turner networks. Brian’s book, Boitano’s Edge: Inside the Real World of Figure Skating (Simon & Schuster, November 1997), is currently in its third printing and is considered one of the finest skating books ever published. In 1995, Brian founded White Canvas Productions to create figure skating shows for both live and television audiences. More than 20 White Canvas specials have aired on NBC, USA Networks and TNT. Brian’s production of the Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular aired on NBC in January 2010.  Brian began his figure skating career in 1972 at the age of 8. After viewing a performance of “Ice Follies,” he traded his roller skates for ice skates and was enrolled in group lessons taught by Linda Leaver. She immediately realized his potential and suggested private lessons. Thus began a remarkable partnership that has lasted 30 years and continues to flourish with Linda also serving as Brian’s personal manager. At 14, while still in high school, he became the U.S. Junior Men’s Champion. Brian gained world recognition when he was 19 as the first skater to complete all six different triple jumps in a World Championship. He placed fifth in the 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo and won the first of four consecutive U.S. Men’s titles in 1985. In total, Brian, a three-time Olympian, has won more than 50 titles, including 23 international gold medals, two World titles, two Pro/AM titles, 16 professional titles, four U.S. National titles, as well as the Olympic Gold Medal. Brian has been inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the National Italian-American Hall of Fame. He is one of the founding members of the National Safe Kids Campaign Entertainment Alliance and is also a member of the Public Awareness Council of the American Cancer Society. In 1998, Brian founded Youth Skate, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to introduce San Francisco’s inner-city youth to the sport of ice skating. Since its inaugural year, more than 6,000 children aged 5 to 15 have participated. Now in its twelfth season, the charity continues to grow with Brian as an active participant. With a lifelong passion for food and cooking, Brian premiered a Food Network cooking series, What Would Brian Boitano Make?, in August 2009. In the series, Brian takes viewers on a reality cooking adventure as he creates amazing food for a new event in each episode focusing on innovative but accessible dishes.

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