Chef Ris Lacoste is a lot of things. She’s been called the “sweetest woman” by fellow colleagues, and the best chef to work for. Her year-old West End restaurant, Ris, is one of The Washingtonian’s best restaurants of 2012, and she loves giving it her all to make diners happy; she’s simply well respected in the restaurant world of DC.
But she’s also desperate to lose weight.
“Okay. What am I going to do to get this done?” Lacoste recalls asking herself when drawing up her New Year’s resolutions. “I’m just desperate. I’ve gone to the gym and lost 20 pounds—and regained 30 pounds. I’ve been on this overweight roller coaster that so many of us are on.”
The life of a chef doesn’t exactly scream healthy, and Lacoste knows that—which is why she’s decided to walk an hour a day during 2012 toward a healthier, happier life. Starting tomorrow, February 1—the first day of American Heart Month—Ris will walk from noon to 1 PM throughout DC to raise money for the GW Women’s Heart Center.
Lacoste realized walking an hour a day might be the answer to her weight loss goals after remembering her time spent in Paris at culinary school. “When all the students sat down for lunch, I’d have them save something for me and go for a walk instead,” she says. “I lost so much weight then. . . . So I just latched onto this idea.”
But the chef is especially inspired to tackle her weight since her mother’s death last year. After suffering a massive heart attack and enduring open-heart surgery, her mother eventually died from a stroke. Lacoste decided to tackle two goals at once by doing good for both herself and others. “I don’t want the attention, but I do think it’s great to bring attention to women’s heart issues.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, for both men and women. Lacoste hopes that inviting people to join the Ris Walk 60 challenge will raise awareness that even a simple lunchtime walk around the city can lead to a healthier life.
Each walk will start at Ris (23rd and L sts., NW) and go to five different locations: one toward the Lincoln Memorial, up the Spanish Steps towards Dupont Circle, toward Dumbarton Oaks, to the White House, and along the Potomac through Georgetown. For every mile walked—she’s aiming for 25,000 miles in 2012—walkers are asked to donate $1.
And you can be sure she won’t ever skip out on a walk. “I’m a woman of my word. If I say I’m going to be there, I will be there,” she assures.
For the month of February, Ris is also offering a three-course, $25 lunch menu called I Heart Lunch. The heart-friendly courses include appetizers like Swiss-chard-and-leek ravioli, main dishes with salmon or cod, and a dark chocolate sorbet for dessert.