Brian Boitano

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What would Brian Boitano do? Well, for one thing, he'd come out with a new cookbook.

The Olympic champ skater is squarely in the food phase of his career, with a new Food Network and Cooking Channel show called What Would Brian Boitano Make?, and now a new cookbook by the same name. Fellow Italian and friend Giada De Laurentiis wrote the foreword.

Boitano's personal cooking style—and his dishes—are totally unfussy and down to earth. "I would say the recipes are fun, with easily accessible ingredients. And they lean more toward healthy, but I always make exceptions," he told us. His rule was if a recipe was too difficult, or had too many ingredients, it didn't make the cut for the book.

He also told us he's into a breezy, participatory style of entertaining he calls "entertaining unplugged."

"I'll set up a cocktail mix kit on the island and will have all my friends make their own cocktails with the spirit, the juice, the simple syrup, the bitters. My guests actually prepare entrées and appetizers as we go, so we all just sit around eating and participating together," he says.

He's also big on making extras of an element for a recipe—say a fresh salsa or sauce—and using that in other meals throughout the week. "It's a great shortcut for people who only want to cook one day a week," he says. Makes sense!

But why should you take food tips from an athlete? He's not classically trained in the kitchen after all, but he does know his stuff—from 30 years of trial and error, and careful note taking.

"I'm a self-trained cook, teaching about the tricks I've learned," he says. "It's been a bit of a challenge [to convince people], but I did The Chew last week, and Mario Batali gave me the best compliment of my life. He said, 'You taught me something today.' I just have to make sure that everything I do is really good and slowly people will see what I'm capable of doing."

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