After a hiatus, our weekly Runner Bio column has returned! This week, we interview our 2012 Secretary, Robert Chan
Robert Chan, SF FrontRunners member and 2012 Secretary
How long have you been running with FrontRunners and what attracted you to the club?
Robert: Previous to moving to San Francisco, I was traveling for my company for 5 years. It can be lonely in a strange city, so I started running with FrontRunner groups whenever I was in a city that had a chapter; consequently, I was able to meet friends in such far off places like Louisville, KY. I was happy to discover San Francisco had such a large, friendly group. I've been running with SFFR for over 8 years.
What do you do for work/during your day?
Robert: I have a background in engineering and release management. PG&E brought me to San Francisco, but they let me go in January, so I'm back on the market ready for my next assignment.
Where did you grow up and what brought you to the Bay Area?
Robert: I was born and raised on Long Island, NY. I consulted at PG&E the summer of 2003. When my assignment was over, they wanted to hire me, so they were responsible for bringing me here early 2004.
What do you enjoy in your free time?
Robert: Now that I have more free time, I've been pursuing things such as: Reading about bread making and trying new breads, hosting dinner parties, piano, fly fishing, hiking, journaling, yoga, and watching reruns of the Golden Girls.
Are you involved with any other clubs or groups around the Bay Area?
Robert: You can usually find me two-stepping and line dancing at Sundance Saloon. I'm also a member of a contemporary fiction book club, a gay Buddhist fellowship, and the SF Hiking Club.
Many of us have heard about your amazing dinner parties. What got you so interested in cooking and hosting events?
Robert: I always enjoyed cooking since I was a child. My sister and I used to play a game called waiter where we alternated being the waiter/waitress and being waited upon. When I was waiter, I presented a menu which consisted of hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, instant ramen noodles, chocolate milk shake, and instant mashed potatoes. She would pick her items and I would set her table, cook and present to the food to her. I've since progressed to a more-healthy menu.
For me the act of cooking is a form of meditation. I don't think of anything else but the food when I'm cooking. I get drunk from the smell of lemongrass, enjoy watch the rising dough, and enjoy the sight and smell of a verdant pesto.
I like to think of my dinner parties as theater. To plan out an event using food, decoration, music, and choreography to achieve a certain result. For my last movie night I made dinner using some Puerto Rican and Polish recipes. The movie was West Side Story. The star crossed lovers were Puerto Rican and Polish. I think we all had a good time. My last 4th of July party was a disco fried chicken party where we ate fried chicken, listened to disco and danced the Hustle.
What is one of your favorite recipes lately?
Robert: Tomato Tarte Tartin in Balsamic Caramel. I learned about it at a puff pastry class I took a few years back with fellow front runner Ned Moran. It's a take on Apple Tarte Tatin except it's filled with caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives and fresh thyme. It's is divine. I made it for our most recent board meeting.
What is one of your fondest memories, so far, with SF FrontRunners?
Robert: I have so many nice memories. I think the best time was when I attended a pride run meeting to meet a guy in 2007. Nobody wanted to be in charge of the BBQ, so I volunteered… or actually they volunteered me saying "you like to cook, why don't you take this." I mentioned that I thought the line for the BBQ was not working. For the past 2 years, the average wait time for food was 45 minutes which I didn't think was acceptable, so I devised a new process where we had parallel tables for items that caused bottlenecks. I documented the process and gave a demonstration. The new wait time was less than 10 minutes. This was used for the next few BBQs.
What are you hoping to see in SF FrontRunners this year?
Robert: I would like to see more social activities. More activities usually help foster relationships which is the key to any successful organizations. We have such a diverse city, I think we should take advantage of being in a diverse city. There so many activities that we can promote: dim sum brunch, two-stepping, hiking, movie night... Don't be afraid to try something new.
Any advice to newcomers to the club and/or people starting out with running and fitness?
Robert: When I first started running with SFFR I must admit I felt like the new kid in town being overwhelmed with all the runners who seemed to know each other very well. It takes time to make new friends. It takes time and persistence. Volunteer and be active with both running and social events. It's a great club.
Thanks, Robert, for an amazing interview!Stay tuned for more runner bios every week!