Brian Boitano building community through food

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Brian Boitano is an Olympic gold medalist, two-time world champion and winner of four national titles.

He also has a flair for food and bringing people together.

Among his long list of sublime accomplishments, Boitano also makes a nasty cocktail — and he credits the same attention to detail that made him an elite skater as helping him thrive in his culinary endeavors.

“The same layers that go into making a program, with music, costumes, lighting, practice — all those onion layers are the same that go into the food,” he said. “What it looks like, what it smells like, the jar it’s in, is it over ice? All these elements, how it tastes – everything. It’s those layers that are really similar to skating.”

Honoree Brian Boitano speaks onstage during the 33rd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner raising millions of dollars for the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis at the New York Hilton Midtown on September 24, 2018 in New York City.

Honoree Brian Boitano speaks during the 33rd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner raising millions of dollars for the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis on September 24, 2018 in New York City.

Getty Images for the Buoniconti Fund

Boitano’s passion for food has taken many forms: first a Food Network show (“What Would Brian Boitano Make?”), then a cookbook of the same name, and most recently a restaurant.

Boitano’s Lounge opened in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2019, and the Hall of Famer skater brought the experience to the SAP Center for a special activation during the US Figure Skating Championships. Boitano, who grew up in nearby Sunnyvale, designed a menu for the event that includes creative cocktails and a selection of appetizers.

It wasn’t until Boitano’s competitive career ended that his love of food really blossomed.

“I was on such a strict diet, and I think that was the other thing that made me love hospitality, food and cocktails,” he said. “I just didn’t have any of that in my life because it was so restrictive. … I’ve been doing this for so many years that when I could branch out I was like, ‘Oh, this is fun. I really like that.'”

After Boitano’s retirement, he would throw dinner parties where he and his friends would all cook together. This sparked a passion and changed his relationship with food.

“It became one of those things that is one of the best memories I have of eating,” he said. “It’s a community, it’s a family, it’s an extended family. It means sharing the moment and enjoying the food and drink.”

That’s the same idea behind Boitano’s Lounge.

Since the first pop-up episode was a success, Boitano, 59, is hoping to give it back to future nationals to bring people together beyond what’s happening on the ice in the middle.

For him, food is at its best when it builds community.

“I just thought it would be a great place for all figure skating fans to come together and take a moment and take a breather,” Boitano said. “You feel like you’re not really in the arena anymore, but you’re still connected.”

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