Top Diets 2004: Losing Weight with Chef Jeff Tunks

They say never trust a skinny chef, but Jeff Tunks, co-owner and executive chef at DC Coast, TenPenh, and Ceiba, wants to give patrons a chance to try.

A year and a half ago, Tunks maxed out the doctor's scale at 350 pounds–and vowed to lead a healthier lifestyle. As the father of two toddler boys, he says, "I needed more spring in my step to keep up with them." Now he's slimmer by 85 pounds–and by 12 pants sizes.

To battle the bulge, Tunks took a lowfat approach–a bagel with light cream cheese for breakfast, a Subway turkey sub, minus the cheese and mayo, for lunch, and a healthy dinner of fish and vegetables. He tries to curb the late-night snack attacks that plague chefs by eating before going to work in the kitchen. To help burn calories, he began working out at the Sports Club/LA, and he walks instead of taking cabs to and from his restaurants.

On average, Tunks lost a pound a week, but his weight loss recently plateaued. He says he'd like to lose another 25 pounds; to jump-start the process he's trying the South Beach diet. He lost eight pounds in the first 11 days, but he doesn't plan on making a life of it. "It's not natural to go to TenPenh and not eat rice or noodles," he says.

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