Simon Pagenaud puts his French chef skills to the test

(Photos courtesy Sonoma Raceway)
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Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud is a Renaissance man of sorts.

Not only is he an outstanding race car driver, he’s also a well-known food and wine connoisseur.

Pagenaud and Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Dana Vollmer put their culinary skills to the test Monday when they took food preparation lessons from two of the top chefs in the Bay Area.

Pagenaud was in town to promote the season-ending Verizon IndyCar Series race, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway on Sept. 18. Vollmer, who is coming off her third consecutive Summer Olympics and is a seven-time medalist (including five golds), was Pagenaud’s cooking partner.

The duo visited the renowned Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland and took lessons from award-winning chefs Tanya Holland and Victor Scargle.

HollandVollmerScarglePagenaud.TPistoia
From left, chef Tanya Holland, Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer, chef Victor Scargle and IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud.

Pagenaud took the stove to prepare a longtime family recipe passed down by his grandmother: bistro beef tenderloin wrapped in pork belly with French green beans and charred tomatoes.

“This was a really fun event,” Pagenaud said in a media release. “We get to do a lot of fun things as IndyCar drivers, but to come and cook with Tanya and Victor was really something special.

“It felt really good to make something that reminded me of my hometown, and now I can tell my grandma I have some adjustments for one of her recipes.”

Vollmer, who follows a gluten- and egg-free diet, prepared handmade corn tortillas for lamb tacos, as well as a red quinoa salad with figs and apples.

Pagenaud has won four races and has earned nine top-fives this season, and hopes to hold on to his points lead in the final two races to win the 2016 IndyCar championship.

Vollmer, meanwhile, had an exceptional performance at the recently completed Rio Games. She was on the Gold Medal-winning 4x100m Medley Relay team and the Silver Medal 4×100 Free Relay, which broke the American record. She also won the Bronze Medal in individual 100m Butterfly.

“It was so fun to meet Simon and cook with him,” said Vollmer, who became the first American mother to win a swimming Gold Medal. “I loved the dishes I made and can’t wait to try them at home.

“Eating healthy and clean is really important for me. When I’m training, I can feel the difference after I put good food in my body, and now, with my son (born last year), it’s even more important because he eats what I eat.”

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