Chef Tre Wilcox on Masks, March Madness and the Perks of Being a Private Chef
Walking towards the back of Marquee to interview Tre Wilcox, I spot him having a rather intense conversation with a guy in a suit about the menu. I grab a seat in a plush booth and wait. No more than a minute later he starts to walk over, but gets interrupted twice by two other employees with just as serious looks on their faces and important questions perched on their lips. I'm quickly reminded how exhausting and encompassing running a restaurant can be. I feel a bit like an intruder and once he makes it over I assure him this won't take long (which is actually a lie).
"It's all good. Don't worry about it."
You seem pretty busy right now.
It's all about balance. You have to make time for certain things. I was even able to get an hour and a half in the gym just now, so I'm not too busy. Just have to balance things.
How do you balance it?
Discipline. Going to the gym is harder than what I do in the restaurant. In terms of staying strong, it helps me deal with stress. There's an analogy that I've lived by for a long time - you have to put your mask on first. Just like they always say on airplanes. When you apply that to life also, it might sound a little selfish, but it's not. You can't be anything to anyone else unless you put your mask on first. Rather that be to sleep more or workout, whatever it is, you need to do it so that you're a better father, husband, wife or whatever.
Being around all this wonderful food all day every day, how do you watch what you eat?
Well, it's March Madness time right now for me. In March I start my own madness.
My workouts get really intense. It's more high explosives, which helps get me ready for spring's "unveiling," if you will (he cracks up laughing and his laugh is loud and amazing). I'm getting ready for my beach look and need to be more cut (laughs more).
From a dietary standpoint, it's more protein shakes, a big lunch, light dinner and then nothing after 10 p.m. but popcorn. Normally I go to bed around 2 a.m. Then I'm in the gym by 10 a.m.
What about the rest of the year?
I work out nine months out of the year and usually take off October, November and December because of all that's going on in the restaurant. I'm here more during that time of the year, so I feed off of that other nine months of training.
When did you get into this rigorous training?
I didn't get into it until about five years ago. I was getting to be overweight -- 285 pounds. The bad thing is, chef coats are good at hiding things. I finally got in with a trainer who was ex-military and he was amazing. He educated and trained me.
What was the hardest thing he ever had you do?
Upside down push-ups, which are basically handstand push-ups.
How many did you have to do?
I read Men's Health a lot and I'd love to work with them and come up with a chef's workout. Something that encourages chefs to just try to get in a 45-minute workout. Chefs have such bad hours and bad eating habits. We're always drinking and eating late at night. It can add up fast.