NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Figure skater Brian Boitano always dreamed of opening his own restaurant even while on a strict diet of salads and potatoes when he was competing.
Boitano still doesn't own a restaurant, but thousands will watch him cook in his forthcoming television show, "What Would Brian Boitano Make?" later this month.
"Still to this day, people think I have a restaurant. I never opened it because of my touring and skating schedules over the years have been tough to deal with," he said.
While athletes have served as spokesmen for food, beverages even kitchen gadgets, it is rare they are touted as chefs.
Boitano is no stranger before the camera; he even won an Emmy award for his skating role in "Carmen on Ice"
Nearly two decades later, the California native hopes his cooking show will showcase him in a different light, expanding on his skating fan-base.
"We came up with this humorous format which combines lifestyle and cooking." said the 45 year-old, who won the men's figure skating title at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
Each episode features Boitano cooking in his San Francisco home for guests ranging from an all-girl roller derby team to his handyman's supper club.
The Food Network is betting viewers will be smitten by Boitano and his brand of eclectic home-cooking.
"It's impossible not to pay attention to him and not to like him," said Bob Tuschman, Food Network's senior vice president of programing.
Since his Olympic win, Boitano honed his cooking skills through trial and error. "I had the energy and willingness to explore," he said.
In defense of criticisms that he's not a trained chef, Boitano said, "I could relate more to people who watch television than someone who went to cooking school."
At the very least, he will be the only TV chef who can perform a triple jump with a spatula.
Chicken Paella Burgers with Spicy Pimento Mayo
(Yields 20 mini burgers)
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound fresh chorizo sausage, meat removed from casing
1/2 pound bay scallops, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Oil, for grill
20 mini rolls
Plum tomatoes, sliced
Spicy Pimento Mayo:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos, finely chopped, juice reserved
For the burger:
Combine all burger ingredients, up to the pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Form into patties about 2 inches in diameter and place onto a platter lined with waxed paper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to grill.
Preheat grill to a medium high heat. Oil grill grates. Place the burgers on the grill a cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Serve on mini rolls with lettuce, tomato and spicy pimento mayo.
For the mayo:
Combine ingredients and reserved pimento juice into a small bowl. Mix until well blended and serve with the burgers.
Reporting by Richard Leong, editing by Paul Casciato