Meet Liam Lewis
Whether he's slicing through the ice on figure skates or cutting up seasonal vegetables in the kitchen, Liam Lewis - a Canadian ice dancer and accomplished teen chef - is quite a force to reckoned with. When he was just 10 years old, Liam started a food blog and created his brand, complete with business cards, a sparkling website, and soon after, representation by Plutino Culinary, one of the top management groups for celebrity chefs and culinary influencers. Dubbed "The Little Locavore," Liam traveled and lived coast to coast, amassing an impressive resume full of TV appearances (CBC, CTV, Global TV, Your Morning), collaborations and mentorship under the country's finest chefs (Vikram Vij, Bob Blumer, Nicole Gomes, Ned Bell), and interviews in the Toronto Guardian, Vancouver Sun, and more. ("Locavore," by the way, is used to describe someone who eats locally-grown food.)
At the same time as Liam was winning over Canadians in the kitchen, he was also on his journey to become the best ice dancer he could be. He has trained under Megan Wing & Aaron Lowe in Vancouver, Carol & Jon Lane in Toronto, and now Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon in Montreal (in which his bilingual skills have been invaluable!). As part of the Ice Academy of Montreal (aka Gadbois), he is a member of one of the most elite skating schools in the world. It takes a very dedicated person to succeed in the skating world, but it takes an extremely special person to do that while simultaneously building a formative career in an entirely different field - and he's only 17!
It was a pleasure to interview such an inspiring young man, and I know his future will only get brighter and brighter - not just a flash in the pan, per se. Read on to learn more about Liam and his dual passions, how he's overcoming injuries and other challenges this season, and some of his best tips (and recipes!) in the kitchen.
Amazing ice dancer/teen chef in aisle 10!
Birthday: April 29th, 2002 (17 years old)
Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada / Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Currently: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Skating Club: CPA Gadbois
Country Represented: Canada
Discipline: Ice Dance
Partner: Currently searching!
Training Location: Ice Academy of Montreal @ Centre Gadbois in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Boots: Jackson Custom Ice Dance
Blades: Jackson Ultima Apex Dance TB115
The ice has been home for Liam from a very young age. He's currently partnerless, so ice dance ladies - now's your chance to snatch him up!
(Right photo courtesy of Stephen Bell)
Q: Not only are you a competitive ice dancer (which is hard enough by itself), you are also a very talented chef. How did your skating and culinary passions begin, and how do you balance your time and energy between them?
A: My love for figure skating started when we moved to Vancouver when I was 11. I had done some CanSkate when I was smaller and then moved onto trying several sports before I came back to skating. At first, I did free skating for about a year-and-a-half, but when I was at a free skate seminar, a judge had a talk with my mom and mentioned that he thought I would be good for ice dance. I started training my preliminary dances with Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe when I turned 13. For a few months, I kept doing free skate and ice dance, but I realized that I really preferred dance, so I’ve been working hard for the last four years to catch up with a lot of skaters who have been dancing/skating way longer than me!
The Little Locavore when he was, well... little! Admiring a vintage Le Creuset pot found at a thrift store, gearing up for skating in his #TeamCanada merch, and in veggie heaven at the farmers market.
My interest in cooking started a few years earlier when I was about 8 years old. When we moved to Vancouver, there were some really great cooking schools that had kid/teen programs, and I think I attended them all! That gave me a chance to meet other kids who had the same passion and learn some real cooking skills in real professional kitchens!
I really appreciate the food community in Vancouver - they were all great at helping to grow my passion and including me! Because I was smaller, it attracted the attention of some of the local media, so I have spent the past few years also talking/cooking and sharing my love for food on some TV morning shows as well.
Q: You started your cooking blog at age 10 and have made such great strides in the culinary world, so I'm curious - what are the similarities and differences you find between the skating and cooking communities?
A: Both use very sharp blades haha! I would say that athletes and chefs are both
super passionate and focused on what they are doing. It takes a long time and
hard work to become skilled at both. Both fields are also very creative, which is
what I really enjoy.
Does Jackson Ultima make kitchen knives? Asking for a friend.
Q: As an elite athlete, nutrition is obviously a very important component of your training and lifestyle. Can you take us through everything you eat in a typical day?
A: Food is so important to me, and now that I train at a competitive level, I realized that I have to fuel my body properly in order to have the energy and strength that I need for training! Hydration is also so important, so I make sure that I am constantly drinking water throughout the day, and if I am on the ice for longer than an hour (which is every day), then I also add some electrolytes to my water.
So breakfast is really important - I usually have a breakfast sandwich or toast with eggs, avocado, tomato, and sometimes bacon. If I have to go train early, I sometimes have oatmeal and fruit (apple or pineapple). I am in school in the morning, and I have a snack/pre-lunch in 3rd period, which is usually a small amount of pasta or a sandwich with some fruit and a smoothie.
Just a small taste of the many mouthwatering creations Chef Liam has whipped up!
I eat lunch in the car on the way to the rink, and I like to have a hot lunch, so I often have pasta or rice with meat and vegetables - and lately, I’ve been having some Yerba Mate as well. At the rink, we don’t have much time for breaks. Usually, I have a snack during the flood (ice resurfacing), which is similar to my pre-lunch snack.
Dinner - if I don’t have a lot of homework and no off-ice training, I am usually the one who cooks dinner in our house, and there are so many things that I like to make! We often have some meat with vegetables and either rice or salad. I even sometimes have a late evening snack - I try to keep it protein and fat, so avocado and turkey or chicken, or hummus…
I started a little meal prep cooking group, and when we’re all not competing and in town, we meet on Saturdays and prepare 4 - 6 meals as a group that some of my skater friends are able to take home and eat throughout the week!
Being at the intersection of an athlete and a chef has so many benefits!
Q: I loved your "In the Kitchen with Zachary Donohue" YouTube video - have you ever thought about doing a figure skating-centric cooking show? Poaching eggs with Patrice Lauzon! Eat Your Greens with Gabi & Gui!
A: Yes! The video with Zach was a practice of what I hope will be a series of videos
of me in the kitchen cooking or talking athlete nutrition with some of my skater
friends, and some other athletes as well! Skating at IAM is great because the skaters that I am surrounded with are all from different countries, so there is a possibility of exploring many cuisines.
The issue has been trying to finding the time in people's super busy schedules to
come over and make the videos, and then me making time to sit down and
edit them!! I made a video with Olivia Smart, where we went to the market to shop for some ingredients and that was last year... still waiting to be edited, so that we can make the follow-up of us cooking together. ;) SOON!!!
Just two ice dancing bros in the kitchen - a must-watch! And check out our interview with Zach (and his partner Madi!) here.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you have faced as both a figure skater and a chef?
A: I’m still figuring this one out! TIME MANAGEMENT! I think that I love cooking as much as I love to skate, and the demands from both are growing as I get better at each, so I am learning how to prioritize and balance them both and manage my time!
Q: You've had a rough season, what with some injuries and a split from your partner Victoria Verrelli. What have these past few months been like for you, and what are your plans for the future?
A: The past few months have not been easy. I had a concussion this summer, which kept us out of all the summer competitions and gave us a late start to our skating season. Until a concussion actually happens to you, it's really not something that you can fully comprehend. Everyone experiences different symptoms, and people’s recovery times are also very different.
It was very frustrating for me because unlike other injuries where you can do physio or work on strengthening, to heal from a concussion you basically have to do NOTHING. No training, no off-ice, no screens, no reading, no music. I can imagine too how frustrating it was for my partner because we were just getting started, and it was a major setback, as the person who isn’t injured has to wait and train alone - seeing as ice dance is a team sport.
We had a couple of good skates at Quebec Sectionals and finished 4th and
were excited to be heading to Challenge, but then a couple of weeks before
Challenge, I strained three ligaments in my knee coming out of a lift, and that
meant 4 - 6 weeks of physio to properly heal that! I have been working with my physiotherapist to heal my leg (which is finally feeling back to normal), and overall strengthening as being off the ice for injuries has been a bit of a setback for me.
As we were unable to compete at Challenge or Nationals in our first junior year, I am determined to actually be able to accomplish those goals! Not giving up! I’m lucky to be surrounded by other skaters and friends who have all been in similar situations and have been super encouraging with advice and support! I have three full potential seasons ahead to compete at the junior level, and I hope to find a partner who will work hard with me in that time!
Liam with some of his Ice Academy of Montreal family!
Left: after a Patinage Quebec competition, Liam and fellow ice dancers hold up their coach, Benjamin Brisbois.
Q: Partner break-ups happen so often in this sport but are so rarely talked about. What advice would you give to someone else in a similar situation as you right now?
A: One of the hard parts of partner sports is that you need the other person in order to compete - however, you can't control how they feel or what they decide to do. The disappointment of the split will eventually pass, and then you should get back to focusing on why you are doing the sport, what your goals are, and what you are prepared to do to continue and meet those goals.
From baking Madison Chock a birthday cake to supporting Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (in more ways than one) to giving Marjorie Lajoie a lift, Liam is a very supportive training mate and will make the best partner to any girl out there!
Q: Okay, here's a challenge - I'm not the best cook, I'm a super picky eater, and I'm not the biggest fan of vegetables, but I need to eat more of them. What healthy recipe would you recommend for me for a quick, easy dinner?
A: There is a stir-fry dish (that I make sometimes when my friends come over for
meal prep days) that is super easy to put together, healthy (so it has some veggies), and delicious!
Liam's recommended recipe via Feed Your Athlete: A Cookbook to Fuel High Performance by Joseph Ewing and Michael Kirtsos. A step up from my usual microwave dinners, I think! Thanks, Liam!
Q: Looking ahead five years, what do you hope to achieve in the kitchen, on the ice, and in life?
A: I would really like to make it to senior in ice dance and have the chance to compete internationally. I would also like to keep cooking, and at some point attend culinary school - and possibly also use my food skills to help other athletes learn and balance cooking/nutrition.
Knife-wielder, jogger... no matter what Liam does next, I'm confident he'll give it his all, as usual!
If you opened your own restaurant, what would be the signature dish?
A: Probably something braised... I’m really into that lately. All-Day Balsamic & Beer
Strangest place you’ve ever fallen asleep?
In Oberstdorf, Germany, at the ISU Ice Dance Camp - under a table in the rink.
Last thing you ate?
Most important quality you're looking for in an ice dance partner?
A: Good communication.
Best cooking tip?
Don’t be afraid of SPICES! Also, taste your food before you serve it!
Check out Liam's special recipe for Chef's Plate! Only 17 and already doing professional collabs. +5 GOE for that!
If you could be friends with any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
A: The chef known as “The Master” in the Japanese series Midnight Diner on Netflix.
He brings people together or offers some sort of life lesson, all centered around
food or a certain dish.
Music you’ve always wanted to skate to?
James Bond - Live & Let Die.
If you were a spice, which one would you be and why?
Cumin - it’s found in a lot of my fave cuisines.
Coolest thing you did this past summer?
Getting to work with Sam Chouinard on our choreography was probably it! He has so much energy and passion that it was great to have some of that rub off on us. I have admired him since I saw the "Roxanne" program that he helped create for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, so getting a chance to work with him was amazing!
Quote to live by?
“How can the sky be the limit, when there are footprints on the moon?” - Sir Robert Bryson Hall II
Fun with food!
(Center photo courtesy of Haley Gill Photography)
KEEP UP WITH LIAM
Facebook: The Little Locavore
YouTube: The Little Locavore
Be sure to follow Liam to keep up-to-date on all his pattern dances, partner searches, and pan-fried delicacies!
All other photos and videos courtesy of Liam Lewis