10 Athlete Epicures Slideshow

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Los Angeles Laker Center Pau Gasol
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Los Angeles Lakers Center Pau Gasol
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You hate the word that LA Weekly used recently to describe the Lakers' center Pau Gasol when they called him "the team's resident foodie," but when you read the interview with him you get the idea. He frequently eats at The Bazaar, has particular opinions about where to eat Italian food in Los Angeles (Pizzeria Mozza and Amarone), and backs up the assertions of many that Spain has the best food in the world. NBC's headline was even more declarative: Pau Gasol: Foodie. "This is the Laker you want to take you out to dinner. And he can afford it, too," they quipped, noting his three-year, $57-million contract extension. Hey, Pau, over here. (Now can we do something about that word? Maybe f#$die?)

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Flickr/bridgetds

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Former NBA Power Forward John Salley
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Former NBA Power Forward John Salley
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When he signed with the Heat in 1992 NBA power forward James Salley decided to become a vegetarian. Since then, his interest in food has turned into the development of a chipotle heavy product line that includes: herb crisps, chipotle crisps, chipotle pepper jam, habañero pepper sauce, peach chipotle sauce, garlic chipotle sauce, and olive oil. The former four-time NBA champ has also developed his own food cruises in the Caribbean, the “John Salley New You Cruise” with nutrition lectures and cooking classes.

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Wikimedia Commons/Fox Sports Net's John Salley

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Surfer Laird Hamilton
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Surfer Laird Hamilton
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Food seems pretty important to this surfer according to a piece that Men's Health did on him. It starts by talking about his "Push Start" where he begins his "day at the blender with a smoothie." Some of Laird's focus and advice on food includes eating real foods, eating colorful and interesting foods, eating sustainable, and to love your coffee. The last is particularly important to Laird considering he has his own line of coffee. He describes Blame Laird Italian Espresso as being "snappy yet slightly sweet dark roasted coffee" that's rich and tangy.

 

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Wikimedia/WNowicki

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Cyclist Lance Armstrong
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Cyclist Lance Armstrong
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Regarding drinking, Armstrong went on the record with Men's Journal as saying, “I mean, for 20 years I lived like a monk, but now if you open a bottle of red, I’ll be the first one at the table.” That may not make him a gourmand, but he has advocated a European diet high in olive oil, fish, and red wine, and his website livestrong.com is a resource that explores fast food and restaurant nutrition; the effects of caffeine, lemon juice, aloe vera, and juice; foods to avoid; and healthy cooking. Sounds like someone who takes their food pretty seriously.

 

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Wikimedia Commons/Hase

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Boston Celtics' Center Shaquille O'Neal
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Boston Celtics' Center Shaquille O'Neal
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Forget the celebrity endorsements (like the Shaq Pack at Burger King), that he has recipes named for him, or his acts of culinary kindness (like donating 2,500 pounds of pasta). In 2007 "The Big Agave" created a TV show, “Shaq’s Big Challenge” to encourage six “severely obese” children to lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle. The Facebook page devoted to renaming the LSU dining hall the "Food Shaq" starts to make sense.

 

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Wikimedia Commons/Jenfit001

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NBA Houston Rockets' Center Yao Ming
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NBA Houston Rockets' Center Yao Ming
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Yao Ming — another NBA veteran with food connections you might not have known. Aside from owning his own restaurant in Houston (Yao Resturant & Bar's tagline is "Great men deserve great food... Come and experience greatness"), Yao also appeared in an ad campaign urging wealthy Chinese people to abstain from eating shark fin soup to prevent overfishing.

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Wikimedia Commons/Karppinen

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Midfielder for the LA Galaxy David Beckham
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Midfielder for the LA Galaxy David Beckham
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Beckham's culinary connections haven't been limited to being honored during the World Cup finals with a new Pot Noodle flavor, Golden Meat(Balls). The Midfield footballer for the LA Galaxy launched his own food line, GO3, which includes frozen fish sticks and meals that included Omega 3, whole wheat and vegetables.

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Wikimedia Commons/Ultra7

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Former U.S. Men's Singles Gold Medalist Brian Boitano
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Former U.S. Men's Singles Gold Medalist Brian Boitano
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"What would Brian Boitano do?
If he was on TV right now,
He'd make some food
And he'd cook it through,
That's what Brian Boitano'd do."

 

Apparently, after winning the gold in Calgary in 1988 in the men's singles category, Brian Boitano would join up with the Food Network for a show, "What Would Brian Boitano Make?" Among some of the things featured were carne asada tacos with green salsa, a hot Italian sausage panini, and a coffee and donuts shake.

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Flickr/GarySoup

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11-Time U.S. Swimming Olympic Medalist Natalie Coughlin
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11-Time U.S. Swimming Olympic Medalist Natalie Coughlin
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Last June, MindBodyGreen did a Q&A with the Olympic medalist titled: "Olympic Gold Medal Winning Foodie." Turns out that beyond her typical breakfast of Irish oatmeal with berries and coconut oil, Coughlin treats herself to salads, 90% of which are made from ingredients that come from her own garden. Her passion for food started in college at Berkeley, "I was exposed to so many healthy and delicious ethnic foods and from then on I was hooked. I fell in love with great produce and great vegetables, and I've had some sort of a garden ever since. In my first apartment I even had a tiny herb garden."

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Wikimedia Commons/NASA_Kathy Barnstorff

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Six-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer Michael Phelps
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Six-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer Michael Phelps
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Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions, and mayonnaise. Two cups of coffee. One five-egg omelet. One bowl of grits. Three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar. Three chocolate-chip pancakes. According to The Wall Street Journal, that was just Michael Phelps' breakfast regimen — just a portion of his 12,000-calorie-a-day training regimen. Try hating food as much as him.

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Wikimedia Commons