The Skinny On Chef Sam Choy’s Weight Loss

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - September 02, 2009
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Chefs Sam Choy and Elmer Guzman

The most-talked-about chef in town right now is the man who famously advised us all to “never trust a skinny chef.” Having lost more than 140 pounds and now just 29 pounds away from weighing under 200, Sam Choy is swapping out his old quintuple X T-shirts for some new, extra-large ones.

“I’ve lost a lot of weight,” says Choy with a huge grin. “People are doing double takes when they see me now. I think a lot of them don’t recognize me anymore.”

They’re also asking if he’s OK.

“It’s kind of natural, I suppose, for people to wonder if I’m sick, but I want them to know I’ve never felt better.”

The former Kahuku High School football player and gifted golfer is happy to report he can once again walk around the gridiron without running out of gas.


“Couple years ago,” he says, “I couldn’t walk around one quarter of a football field without gasping for breath.

Today I can do an hour on an elliptical and feel good about it.”

Choy’s weight-loss journey started in 2006.

“I started this a little over three years ago,” he says. “I started real slowly, working with my doctor, Eugene Wong, and then a couple of years ago I really stepped up the physical part, and that’s where Eric Yamashita became involved. And now I work out every day at the gym in Kona, where I live.”

If it sounds easy, it wasn’t, and that’s why Choy should be an inspiration to anyone depressed about their weight.

“I know it’s hard for people out there,” he says. “I know what it’s like to have to take that first step.”

Motivated by many reasons to lose weight, Choy says that the death of musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was something he often thought about.

“You look at Iz,” he says. “He was so loved by everyone, so respected and his music is still played around the world. His spirit is strong and still with us, but he’s not. I feel that I need to talk to people and let them know that there are a lot of great doctors out there and a lot of people who can help you.”

But, he advises, one essential tool needed for the journey is commitment.

“You have to want to do it,” he says. “You know yourself when you’re in trouble. You know it’s time. The first part of the journey is just making the commitment to yourself.”

For a high-profile personality in the food industry, there were many tough days.

“White rice was my No. 1 problem,” he says. “And the events that we do as chefs, they were tough.”

Instead of gathering with colleagues for after-party, late-night eating, Choy would be the one eating salad or not eating at all. Today colleagues gather round with words of congratulations and sincere admiration.

And Choy is busier than ever with a new cookbook due out next month and a calendar full of personal appearances, cruises and charity events.

Before we part, I remind him about his new T-shirts and to change not only their size, but their slogan.

“Oh, yeah,” he laughs, “how about this on the back instead?: ‘Never trust a skinny chef - until now!’”

Happy eating!


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