Chef Robert Irvine's Latest Impossible Challenge: Fitness

Chef Robert Irvine conducts a culinary presentation at KitchenAid stage at the Grand Tasting during the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, October 19, 2014. Credit: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images for NYCWFF

Robert Irvine stands out among all of the other chefs-turned-television-stars whose faces you might recognize over their food. Easily the most imposing figure compared to the likes of Bobby Flay or anybody you'll find competing on Iron Chef, part of what makes the muscle-bound chef, who learned to cook after joining the Royal Navy at 15, so intriguing on his various shows is that he looks like he could kick your ass. He's an intimidating specimen, but he's also an incredible motivator; two things he uses to his advantage helping failing restaurants turn it around on his Food Network show, Restaurant: Impossible, and now with his newest special premiering January 7th, Fitness: Impossible


"You have to be honest with people if you are going to help them, and sometimes that's hard for people to accept," Irvine says about his brand of tough love. Half-drill sergeant, half-motivational speaker, the towering award-winning chef hardly has a problem doing just that when dealing with cooks and managers who hardly care about the greasy plates of pasta or undercooked pork chops they send out to the dining room floor. With his newest show, Irvine looks to answer fans questions on food and fitness. 

"Fitness is a passion of mine and I wanted to share that passion with others to help them better themselves and achieve personal goals," Irvine says of this latest endeavor. Inspired by letters and emails asking how a guy could stay in such great shape while hitting the road trying to save greasy spoons from closing, Irvine will combine workout tips with recipes like Roasted Chatham Cod Provencal Style and Green Bean Almondine with Citrus Vinaigrette. It's such a natural combination, but one that has been missing among the artery clogging foods from diners, drive-ins, and various dives you're likely to see on food television. Irvine is trying to elevate the food show, while trying to help viewers better themselves. There's no competition to see who can make a dish faster, and no food culture exploration where the likes of which Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern excel; instead, Irvine is focused on something simpler and more noble: "I want them to succeed and I know they can succeed," he says. "They just need a push."