Garrett Weber-Gale cooks in the simple galley kitchen of his Austin town house, where an apron with the slogan TRAIN HARD/EAT RIGHT/SWIM FAST hangs over the sink. Baskets of fruits and vegetables and an English-language copy of Larousse Gastronomique sit steps away. He whips together a meal that an elite athlete not only could love but also could win on
First up is a chilled fennel, pear and citrus soup of Weber-Gale's invention. "If we were in France, I'd probably use cream or milk," he says. "Instead I'm using three cups of fat-free rice milk." Next comes a beet salad with cipollini onions and toasted hazelnuts, tossed in a goat-cheese-and-orange vinaigrette. Weber-Gale believes in the old adage, The more colors on your plate, the more nutrients. "Plus," he says, "you don't have to think as much." The goat cheese comes from Pure Luck, an artisanal cheesemaker in nearby Dripping Springs, Texas, and it's sublimely marbled with honey and thyme.
Weber-Gale typically eats red meat twice a week and tries to make it lean cuts of bison, which are high in iron and low in cholesterol. Tonight he's finishing medallions of grass-fed Colorado bison with a beef-stock reduction. He cooks the meat as the French do: in a pan with a touch of butter, so it won't dry out, as it might under a broiler or on a grill. To the reduced beef stock he adds a fig-infused balsamic vinegar, one of his favorite ways of adding flavor without sodium. As he beholds the perfectly pink centers of the filets, he invokes one of his mentors: "Michel Troisgros would be proud of that!"
For side dishes Weber-Gale chooses potatoes au gratin, made with an antioxidant-rich purple varietal, and asparagus. "Generally, the smaller and more colorful the potato, the healthier," says Weber-Gale, who carefully makes wafer-thin slices with an implement called a mandoline—"the most dangerous device in the kitchen," he says. Then he layers the potato slices in ramekins with a buttery Spanish sheep's cheese called Malvarosa.
The meal is so good—and so good for you—that it's impossible not to wonder about dessert. "I don't do a lot of desserts," Weber-Gale says. "They don't help me achieve my goals." He waits a beat, then leaves the table to fetch a small bag from a cabinet. It's full of candied grapefruit slices he has boiled into a comfit. They're the perfect treat for an Olympian in training: Each has notes of sugar, but there's enough sweetness held back to hint at some distant reward.