Q & A With The Active Kitchen Host & Chef Lottie Bildirici

Lottie Bildirici is a chef, health coach, and blogger based in New York City. She created the site Running on Veggies, and offers recipes and tips for others to follow. At 23 years old, Lottie has developed a passion for boosting fitness through healthy food choices. Her new series, The Active Kitchen, pairs her with professional athletes as they examine what athletes best love to cook and eat before training and competition. Kara Goucher is featured in the first episode, which will premiere exclusively on MileSplit on August 21. Below, Lottie answers a few questions for us.

Lottie, can you describe the premise of The Active Kitchen and what kind of insight you hope it brings? Who's its ideal audience? 

I have always had a passion for food, but it wasn't until I started running during my senior year of high school that I started to question what my food intake was doing for my training and how I could leverage it as a tool to enhance it. From there, Running on Veggies was born. The Active Kitchen has been a passion project for me. It started when I met Allen Krughoff -- a professional cyclocross athlete -- in Boulder, Colorado. I was out there for work and needed to hire a photographer for a project I was working on. At that time, he mentioned this idea he had called 'The Active Kitchen' and was wondering if I would be interested in being the host!

I loved the concept of bringing athletes into the kitchen. I think a lot of times when we look at professional athletes they don't seem relatable, but this was an opportunity to show the everyday runner how professionals eat and how we can translate that into our own lives. My ideal audience? Anyone who loves running and sports -- from the newbie to the die-hard fans. The Active Kitchen will be both informative and entertaining! 

What are the origins of the show? When was the idea first hatched and at what point did you begin to put all the pieces together? 

Like I mentioned, Allen Kroghoff came up with this idea. But we needed funding to get it going. I put out some feelers and was able to get the pilot picked up with the hopes of filming more episodes. I wanted to have Kara Goucher for a couple reasons: not only is she a great friend and athlete, but I actually lived with and cooked for her leading up to the Olympic Trials last year. So it was only natural to have her on the pilot episode sharing what she has been cooking since I have been gone. 

On your blog, you write about how your diet has transformed in the last five years. How has your relationship to cooking changed over that time and why do you feel it's important now to share that insight with others?

I grew up in the kitchen. I come from a long line of chefs and so I have been around food my whole life. But eating healthy was never about performance. When I was younger, eating healthy was always connected to "dieting" and it was never related to running faster or feeling better; it was all about fitting into a dress or a pair of jeans. Once I started running, I began to look at food differently, and I started to explore how it could help my performance and recovery. I saw tremendous benefits with changes in my diet -- like cutting out added sugar, white flour, and other processed foods. I became much more aware of what I was eating and why I was eating it. Additionally, I have dealt with a number of stress fractures, so I'm constantly aware of how my food is aiding in rebuilding and restoring, both in order to avoid injury and to become an all-around better athlete. 

How did a connection with professional athletes start? Can you describe the role they play on your show?

Professional athletes were featured on wall posters in my room and on my computer and phone screen savers. They were my celebrities and I think a lot of people can relate to that. So the fact that I even get the opportunity to work with them on a daily basis is still surreal. But it all happened so organically. They literally found me on Instagram.

Kara Goucher first found my Instagram in 2013 -- and we discuss our " meeting " on the show. From there, she really took me under her wing and gave me so much opportunity to do what I love. The running world is a tight-knit crowd and, thanks to social media, my recipes have spread throughout that world! Each episode will feature a different professional athlete and they will share their favorite meal with us and show us how its done!  

How many episodes will the show run? Where will the show take us?

Right now we just filmed the pilot. Our hopes are to have a 6-8 episode series where we feature different Olympians -- everyone from runners to cyclists to triathletes. We want to take you into the kitchens of some of the coolest athletes out there! 

On your blog you write about how Brianne Eaton, an Olympian for Canada and the wife of Ashton Eaton, found one of your recipes and wrote about it. What were your thoughts on that?

I still pinch myself when something like that happens. I stumbled upon a blog post in which they referenced my recipes the same night they competed in the Olympics and took home bronze and gold. I still feel like sometimes I'm writing recipes for myself and no one is making them or seeing them. So when this happens I always need to take a step back and realize how big this has become. 

What are your top three pre-race meals?

What are your top three post-race meals? 

Athletes love dessert. Have any thoughts on a great dish? 

Yes, they do! I remember the first week I was cooking for Kara and I was totally taken back by how much she loved dessert, so I always made sure the dessert was nutritious and actually doing good for her body. This is a favorite of ours.

What do you hope The Active Kitchen teaches others? 

I hope the Active Kitchen inspires others to get in the kitchen and just try! I think a lot of people are intimidated by cooking healthy, so they give up before they've even started. The kitchen can be a fun place to experiment, de-stress and be creative. I hope The Active Kitchen features these professional athletes in a new, more relatable light and gets people inspired to get cooking!

Where can everyone watch The Active Kitchen and when?

The Active Kitchen will launch on August 21, and you will be able to find it on my YouTube channel here. Follow my Facebook and Instagram for announcements.

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