by Tammy J. Colter
MasterChef Judge Graham Elliott has a career that some would envy. He gets paid to taste gourmet dishes created by aspiring chefs. On an almost daily basis, he gives his palate quite the workout by experiencing a variety of heavenly foods; rich, creamy sauces, French truffles, Foie gras, lobster, Kobe beef and other delicious dishes that any food connoisseur would love to try. But the very career he loves and chose has been taking it's toll on his health. At the age of 36, the 6'2 chef found himself tipping the scales at 400 pounds and last week, the father of three decided to do something about it. He underwent the sleeve gastrectomy which removes about 80 percent of the stomach.
Elliott admits to having struggled with his weight all his life but he has a family now and his priorities have changed. He was finding it hard to play with his sons, and to get in and out of the car, or to tie his shoes.
"This is what I need to do for my family," the chef says of his decision to have weight loss surgery and in a recent interview with People. "What's going to make me healthy is the most important thing right now so I can enjoy my kids and be around long enough to see them grow up."
Elliot's co-judges of MasterChef Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich have also been motivating factors in his decision to get healthy. They have been supportive and have encouraged him to lose the weight and to change his life. Ramsey and Bastianich both run marathons and Elliott's biggest goal is to be able to start running. "I get inspiration from both these guys."
Elliott, who at 27 became the youngest Four Star Chef to be named in any major U.S. city, says that his profession also played a major consideration in his decision to have surgery and specifically the sleeve gastrectomy. In a consultation with his doctor, they both agreed the sleeve was best suited for Elliott. The procedure will not restrict what foods he eats and he will be able to still taste and try foods as a MasterChef judge. The culinary wizard had been thinking about having weight loss surgery since 2005 but it wasn't until this year that he ultimately made the decision to move forward.
"It's like I'm somebody who is way past their prime and that shouldn't be the case at 36. Throw in gout and high blood pressure and the history of strokes and heart attacks in my family ... this is something that has to happen."
The acclaimed chef is looking forward to a healthier future and a lifestyle that his dramatic weight loss will offer and you can bet that his kids are pretty excited about that.