Christian Green first caught our culinary attention in Season 5 of Fox's MasterChef in 2014. Incredibly, the 29-year-old from New Orleans so impressed the judges during the series that upon his exit, Gordon Ramsay offered to invest in Green's future plans for a food truck.
Fast forward to 2022 and the charismatic chef is back in the MasterChef kitchen, this time as a participant in the Back to Win competition, where former participants compete against each other for another chance at victory. M&F sat down with Green, who also works with athletes like the NFL's Marcus Davenport and the NBA's Zion Williamson, to find out how he tailors meals for different athletes and how he monitors his macros. He even gave us the ingredients for his cajun honey garlic salmon dish.
"To be honest, the recall boosted my confidence tremendously," says Green, who first fell in love with cooking by watching his late grandmother stir up a storm. "My grandmother used to work in a high school, where she was one of the ladies in the cafeteria," Green recalls. “Seeing my grandmother cook and you know that I go into the kitchen with her inspired me. I also went into the garden and picked collards, sweet potatoes, okra and even pears because we used to make pickles too; from the pear tree."
Green attended Dillard University in New Orleans, where he majored in sociology and psychology and then progressed to an economics major, but his true calling came when he jumped at the opportunity to join MasterChef. He became a favorite on the show. Along the way, a mutual friend provided the connection between Green and Davenport, the defensive end of the New Orleans Saints. He's also a trusted chef to Williamson, star of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Green takes great pride in energizing athletes, but how does he go about planning different meals for different types of athletes? "It's different for every individual and every sport," he says. “The reason for that is that an athlete plays 17 games a year, maybe more depending on if they make the playoffs, and on the other hand an athlete who plays about 80 games a year. In addition, the sports are also completely different, so their diet must also be different. One thing I always keep in mind when cooking is making sure I'm cooking meals that will allow athletes to stay healthy while maintaining the right weight. My number one priority is making sure I am providing her body with the right diet and nutrition. It is important to eat the right amount of carbohydrates. Another thing I include a lot is juicing, which I think plays a big part in my plans. Marcus Davenport, for example, is not a big veggie person, so juicing gives me a chance to use the vitamins and nutrients I need in a creative and tasty way.”
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Green says finding foods that athletes love but are also healthy is a great way to keep them on track. "Zion loves seafood, which is good for his diet," says Green. “He especially loves salmon. So I try to stay closer to the seafood.” The chef says he's aware of the types of carbs he gives to athletes. "I try to incorporate good, clean carbs into my diet, like quinoa, sweet baked potatoes, lentils, and I also cook with vegan butter. I don't use whipped cream.” To monitor his macros, Green uses an app called Lose It! "Whenever I plan meals, I enter all the components of the meal into the app," he says.
And when it comes to adding flavor, Green knows his stuff. "I have my own line of spices, which can be found on my Fashion Food Taste website," he says. "I currently have a low-sodium Cajun all-purpose seasoning, a lavender garlic herb seasoning, and a zesty lemon zest seasoning." When his current commitments at MasterChef are completed, he hopes to bring more Dining with Christian experiences to the public, and in everything he cooks is very driven by the idea of creating a legacy his son can be proud of. "Honestly, it feels great to work with athletes to help them achieve their goals," says Green. "I mean, I kind of see myself in it because I used to be an athlete myself. I've played soccer and run track and field, and while I haven't made it professionally at that level, it feels good that I can provide a service to keep these athletes where they need to be and a part too to be the catalyst that enables them to continuously achieve their goals.”