Chef News

Chef Christopher Wolf of Arizona Culinary Institute

Meet Chef Christopher Wolf, hybrid of outdoor adventurer and health-conscious culinarian. Wolf teaches at Arizona Culinary Institute and has worked in top-tier kitchens in Virginia and Las Vegas.

When he's not in either the kitchen or the classroom, you'll probably find him outside. As an avid marathoner, tri-athlete, and cyclist, Chef Wolf has spent years trying to encourage his students to adopt healthier habits. This year he's set his sights on helping some of Arizona's up and coming chefs find a balance between living healthy and creating delicious food.

I know I've worked in plenty of kitchens with relatively unhealthy people who have no desire to change that whatsoever. It's my mission to initiate that change whenever possible.

This year he's taking his project to new heights--literally. As part of what he's dubbed the ACI Food and Fitness Initiative, Wolf has his students climbing mountains and scaling rocks in an effort to merge wholesome living with a career making delicious, but often unhealthy, cuisine.

Obviously our main goal here at the culinary school is to teach people how to cook. But just because you know how to cook doesn't mean you're doing it in a healthful fashion. A lot of times you deal with cream and butter and a lot of fatty, decadent items. One of my favorite things about teaching is inspiring people, so I liked the idea of inspiring people to start an exercise program in conjunction with their culinary training. The idea of learning how to cook and take care of yourself at the same time is the premise of our program.

As far as personal goals go, Wolf sets the standards pretty high, using the "natural source of energy" he gets from eating his own food to propel him closer to his ambitions.

He hopes to touch the highest peaks of all seven continents and fifty states. So far, he's climbed Africa's Kilimanjaro and closer-to-home, McKinley in Alaska. He's checked off 21 of the 50 states including Hawaii's Mauna Kea and Washington's Mount Rainer. Once, on a cross-country road trip, he made pit stops to climb every peak with in a 100-mile detour of his route. He'd also like to hike every established mile of trail in the Grand Canyon.

I like things that you have to commit to completely, and cooking can be very committing and time consuming. But training for these big races...that's somewhat consuming as well. I just like these things that you have to dive into 100 percent. I'm a pretty passionate guy so the things that I'm passionate about, I like to share that with other people. Sometimes it works and sometimes not but just putting the offer out there I feel is better than nothing.

Tomorrow: the second part of our chat with Chef Wolf. Find out how this mountain-climbing explorer found his way into the culinary world.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria