Can Martial Arts Make you a Better Chef?

Can Martial Arts Make you a Better Chef?
For those that don't know me personally, I happen to be a HUGE fan of Project Runway and Top Chef, two shows created by the same masterminds. I love the shows because they feature people who have been working in the given industry for a little bit of time but have yet to be "discovered".

The reason I bring this up is because I was intrigued when I heard one of the contestants this year on Top Chef Canada, the Canadian version of the show, was a former Tae Kwon Do champion. I just had to check it out and find out more.

Meet Elizabeth Rivasplata.

She's a 32-year-old sous chef at the Art Gallery of Ontario's FRANK Restaurant. She's been working there for the last 3 years. She originates from Lima, Peru, where she had attended Lima's Le Cordon Bleu culinary school.

As part of introducing her in the show, they mentioned she got some of her competitive spirit from being a Tae Kwon Do champion. Now, if you've been in Martial Arts for any time, you'd be a bit of a skeptic like me. Almost anyone can claim they are a champion. Tournaments are a dime-a-dozen and some are fairly corrupt in skewing events to help boost their own organizations.

Elizabeth, however, may be the real deal. Intrigued by the mention of Martial Arts, I began to do a bit of a search to find out more. Apparently, before even considering to be a chef, she had been the country's Tae Kwon Do champion for 12 years. Now, it's hard to find information about her time in Martial Arts because it occurred over a dozen years ago and not much information from back then made it online. I did find a record of her winning the gold in the 1994 Military World Championship. I also found another reference of her in the 1996 US Open as coming in 2nd in the Jr. Light Women's division.

Listening to her audition video, I can really see how the Tae Kwon Do training has helped her land a position within the culinary world. These skills include but are not limited to:
  • highly organized
  • handles pressure well
  • ability to adapt to new situations/challenges/adventures
  • good eye for detail
  • continues to push forward
  • dedicated and constantly striving to take yourself to the next level

Check out her audition tape here:

Elizabeth, we wish you still had time to practice Tae Kwon Do but we still wish Elizabeth the best of luck in her drive to become Canada's next Top Chef!

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