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Saturday, January 11, 2014
Brian Boitano relishing his new TV roles

By Jim Caple

Brian Boitano
Brian Boitano is coming to a TV near you, this time off the ice.

BOSTON -- When Brian Boitano was a competitive skater, he needed to have his routines choreographed months ahead of time and then he would practice them relentlessly, over and over, through falls and aches and pains and the shouted demands of coaches.

This not only made Boitano the 1988 gold medalist and a three-time Olympian, it provided vital preparation for another demanding, difficult occupation: hosting his Food Channel cooking show, "What Would Brian Boitano Make."

"It's food choreography," Boitano said of what it was like demonstrating how to cook, say, a chicken paella burger. "I like to choreograph the dialogue. So, I'll talk for 45 minutes and I have to figure out, 'What am I going to say about mushrooms?' Because that's going to take 10 minutes for them to sauté and cook down. And I have to figure out something to say about mushrooms for 10 minutes. What do I say?"

And you thought executing a triple lutz was hard.

"You have to practice because when you do a food segment, you always have to be smiling," said Boitano, who will be part of the U.S. Olympic delegation in Sochi. "Even when you're chopping something, you're smiling, and when you're putting the food in, you're smiling. Even if you're not looking at the camera, you have to be smiling. That is so important, that you're always smiling."

Kind of like always smiling during a skating routine. Except even devastated skaters who missed a jump don't have to deal with chopped onions.

Boitano is now hosting a four-episode show, "The Brian Boitano Project," on HGTV in which he renovates his great-great-grandfather's home in an Italian village where he says there are about 500 people in the Boitano family. The first episode airs Jan. 16 and runs weekly.

"It was rubble almost. Total disrepair," he said of the home. "I bought it from 20 Boitanos who had inherited it."

Boitano said that after the renovation was completed, he cooked a meal for his family that will be in a special on the Cooking Channel.

"It's fascinating to me what my aunts and cousins there do and their way of life around food," he said. "In front of the house, I have an acre of fresh vegetables that my cousin grows. They grow everything -- vegetables, fruit -- it's all farm-to-table. And it's so cool. I love that way of life."

Especially if you don't have to watch your waistline quite so intensely as when you're an Olympic skater.