Miami Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli Gets Cooking with CrossFit
Last August, Miami chef Giorgio Rapicavoli knew he needed a change. He’d been keeping in relatively good shape, hitting the gym, playing roller hockey with his buddies and completing a few triathlons. But he was finding it hard to incorporate daily workouts into his schedule, which has his day start late and end late in the kitchen with access to all kinds of food.
He’d slowly packed on 40 pounds, and soon found that keeping in shape was getting away from him. Rapicavoli knew Daniel Lopez-Calleja, who runs CrossFit Soul in Miami, and was always egging him on to come in and try out a CrossFit class.
- “He’d always tell me and I always made excuses,” said Rapicavoli, 36, who most famously won the television cooking show Chopped at 26 and made Forbes’ 30 Under 30. “And then finally I put my son Luca in school last August and went.”
Rapicavoli said his competitive personality was a perfect fit, hitting late morning classes before he headed off to the restaurant.
- “I said I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna commit to this and I’m going to diet and lose weight, I just didn’t think I would love CrossFit the way I ended up. I had no idea, and I had the same mentality that so many people had that CrossFit is just what you see at the Games on TV, you know, ‘How am I ever going to do that?’ And I think that’s what happens when many people see CrossFit, they don’t see the scalability and how you can level up and grow.”
Rapicavoli recently opened Luca Osteria, an Italian restaurant named after his son, and is in the process of moving his first restaurant, Eating House, a Cuban-styled restaurant, into a new location close to Luca. He said CrossFit has slid perfectly into his busy life, and gives him a daily hit of exercise in a style suited for him.
- “I am very competitive, and a lot of what has brought my career to me was winning Chopped on the Food Network, so I’ve always loved competition. And finding CrossFit, I mean there is camaraderie and a little competition amongst the group, but you are competing against yourself, with trackable data, which I love. I can see what I did, I can see my growth.”
One of Miami’s most beloved chefs was soon finding CrossFit presented small challenges he could attack every day before heading to the restaurant. He noted doing his first wall walk, his first rope climb and stringing together four double unders as wins he’s taken to the bank already.
- “First the gym disrupts your life, then you are going to get to a point where no gym disrupts your life. And it has become such a cool mentality to think like that and I think also the box setting is so different than the traditional gym where there is no intimidation. How do you not want to start your day with not only a challenge, but motivation and everybody there has the same goal, to be better, to do better and take care of themselves.”
He’s also eating keto, which he said is odd given he runs an Italian restaurant, but his mood and energy levels rising as a result have kept him on the straight and narrow even with plates of pasta flying through his face on a daily basis.
Of course, after Noah Ohlsen–a regular at Eating House and Luca–won the Wodapalooza team competition, Rapicavoli invited him in for a celebratory dinner. He said Ohlsen is one of the nicest guys he’s ever met, and gave him some sage advice moving forward in the sport.
- “Right now it’s such a fun stage in CrossFit,” Rapicavoli said Ohlsen said to him. “Everything is a new PR, but the goal is to still have that fun and excitement when you plateau.”
Ohlsen’s partner Joann Leigh also had some great advice for him, a saying Rapicavoli said he has been unable to shake.
- “Joann said CrossFit is P.E. for adults, it’s the same kind of thrills. When do you have a chance to do so many random things a day and have fun with it?”