What Chefs Ride and Drive

Photo Credit: Lisa Theobald
Chefs' stories of speed, life lessons, adrenaline, and their associations (culinary and not) with their rides

Tattoos. Rock star status. Late nights partying hard. Outlaw associations. It shouldn't be surprising that many chefs also have a passion for their rides. For the adrenaline junkie there's speed; for the craftsman there's the art of a fine machine; and for the busy, adventurous, and overworked chefs, there's the practicality of a mode of transport that enables them to get around, explore, and escape.

Click here for the Chefs, Bikes, and Automobiles Slideshow

"I’ve been riding Harleys since 1981, so it goes beyond a mode of transportation," says chef John Stage of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. "It has always been a lifestyle to me."

He's not alone. Plenty of other chefs have storied passions for their rides that can be traced to childhood. For many, there's that early association and interest in automobiles for their speed and adrenaline. "When I was 14," chef Grant Achatz recounts in Life, On the Line, released this year, "my dad asked me what kind of car I wanted when I turned 16. He loved cars, and he wanted me to love them, too. 'A fast one,' I said."

That sense of excitement and danger fits squarely within the lifestyles that many associate with working in professional kitchens. "Like many chefs, I'm an adrenaline junkie," admits chef Mike Lata of FIG in Charleston, S.C. "I need to find release and riding my bikes — be it on the racetrack or in the mountains — gives me that."

Look at the accompanying photos of chefs with their favorite rides and that connection with speed, and of being a badass, an outlaw, is clear. Some photos make you think they had to have even been professionally shot. (Seriously, how cool is Hubert Keller?) You've seen that same spark in some chefs' eyes when they've had the chance to show off on TV — Alton Brown on Feasting on Asphalt, Anthony Bourdain when he borrowed that '74 Camaro for an episode of No Reservations.

With that iconoclasm and recognition comes the risk of the whole "bad-boy chef with a badass car" being "too much." And with that, for those chefs whose lives are lead particularly out loud, comes the risk of the rides being ripped off. Guy Fieri's bright-yellow Lamborghini was dramatically stolen from a San Francisco car dealership earlier this year (he replaced it with a yellow Chevrolet Camaro, by the way).

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