with Chef Kevin DeMarco
703 S. 5th Avenue
Sacrificing our favorite dishes for a revamped, healthier eating style, in addition to a strict workout schedule, doesn’t sound that appealing to most of us. However, Kevin DeMarco is here to make it a little less grueling. As an ACE-certified trainer who graduated with honors from the New York Restaurant School, DeMarco brings nutrition and physical well-being to Wilmingtonians in his downtown private studio and kitchen. But his love for cooking began long before his education and entrepreneurship.
“My culinary training began when I was 14 years old,” DeMarco says, “when I worked in an Italian/Greek bakery in Queens, New York. While there I learned a variety of cooking techniques and my love for the art of pastry-making began.”
Today he has transformed his knowledge into a smarter way of living. At DeMarco Studio customers undergo a private evaluation of their needs in the realm of healthy weight-loss methods and nutritional improvement. These sister issues led DeMarco to create the “60-40 Theory,” a unique approach to fitness, revolving around healthy and satisfying dishes. Recently, the chef/trainer took some time out to indulge encore readers the details of his promising business.
encore: For people unaware of your organization, can you explain what the 60-40 philosophy is?
Chef Kevin DeMarco: The first thing that people need to understand is that there is no such thing as a diet—there is a healthy way to live and look at food. Balance is a key essential in day-to-day life, as well as in each meal: a balance of fats, carbs, proteins and whole, natural foods. The 60 percent in my 60/40 philosophy is referring to the food that is put in your mouth. Food is fuel for the body and truly food for the soul. Not only do you need to be aware of what you put in your mouth but also at what time of the day you feed the machine. You can give everything you have in training and exercise but if you’re not fueling your body properly, you won’t see the same results. In conjunction with 60 percent healthy eating, 40 percent is the exercise and giving 100 percent to your training. It’s within this combination that I feel you get to your goals and create a healthy lifestyle at the same time. Healthy, wholesome and satisfying meals can be part of your daily life and compliment your new lifestyle. You can eat, you need to eat, and in this balance you may just find a healthier you.
e: What was the driving force behind your creation of this organization?
KDM: Being a heavier kid all throughout my younger years, the weight became a burden and affected the way I felt about myself and the way I interacted with others. I began exercising as a way to feel better, and to change the way I looked and felt on the inside and out. At 22 years old, I decided to pursue a career in cooking and enrolled in a culinary institute. I then entered the restaurant industry, where my weight once again began to fluctuate as I had no balance nor the time to eat right and work out as my body became accustomed to. As my weight kept increasing, I made the decision to leave the corporate restaurant business and work for myself, mainly to create a healthier balance in my life. I used my experience with food and in life to create a healthy restaurant, and was able to focus more on a healthy lifestyle, which is where my interest in bodybuilding became a reality.
Fast forward to today, being able to fuse healthy eating into working as a healthy chef and personal trainer has been what my success is about. Food and fitness is key and that is what DeMarco Studios stands for.
e: What has been the biggest accomplishment of DeMarco Studio?
KDM: Each of my clients reaching their goals is of course a great accomplishment, but it is not my accomplishment, because in the end, success is based on each individual’s accountability. The biggest accomplishment of DeMarco Studios is client dedication. I train people of all ages and for a plethora of reasons, whether it is to lose weight, stay in shape, train for a marathon or other sport-specific reasons, aid in lifestyle changes or midlife crises. Mentally and physically I am on a level with all of my clients, having gone through the grueling days, the frustrations and the trials of having been in such poor body condition myself. The creation of new lifestyles, witnessing changes and goal satisfaction is the most important focus here at DeMarco Studios. These are reasons that my clients keep coming back. I take pride in doing the best I can everyday, and my accomplishments are based primarily on that.
e: There are many healthy dishes out there. How did you decide on your current menu?
KDM: When I coach my clients on their eating lifestyle, I give them guidelines to stick to, never set menus. However, my culinary experience does get a chance to shine through when I cook at private dinners, during cooking classes and at chef demos, both onsite and off. During these events, I work one-on-one with my clients to create menus and dishes that fit both budgets and personal preferences. The clients and I go over these preferences, what foods they love and which ones they do not want to have featured, and then I create the menu centered around those specifications.
My menus are also heavily influenced by the seasons and the availability of the most supreme products. Taste the Olive (1121-G Military Cutoff Road, in The Forum), an olive oil and balsamic vinegar specialty store, has aided in the complete transformation of a lot of my dishes because the products are truly superior, making my menus even more versatile. I also pull a lot of influences from the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, as these cuisines often use large amounts of flavorful spices and herbs, as well as fresh ingredients, pulling out the fat and substituting it with plenty of flavor.
e: Tell me about your workout regimens and how they differ for customers.
KDM: I never have a “set” fitness regime because people, like foods, are truly unique, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Each person’s exercise regime depends on their fitness level, needs and goals, and a personalized training program is designed to those specifications. Every client gets a complimentary fitness evaluation and a healthy lifestyle consultation upon our first meeting. This intimate level of communication from the start usually eases any nerves the client my have about making these big steps and helps to jumpstart their drive toward change.
e: If you had a magic wand, and could change one thing about current dining and exercise trends, what would be at the top of your list?
KDM: When it comes to dining, the main thing I would change is America’s favorite side dish. Why do mashed potatoes, or any starch for that matter, have to be on every plate in a restaurant? Why can’t the chefs broaden their menus, use brown rice, whole wheat couscous, barley, farro or any other whole grain instead? Restaurants truly deprive their customers of an adventure with their food, instead giving them something easy and familiar. People like tradition, but if they were forced to think outside the box with a food that they may not normally be exposed to, they might be amazed at what they find.
When it comes to exercise, I would change the way people are exposed to exercise and the overnight expectations that come with this unrealistic exposure. A TV show like “The Biggest Loser” may be motivational, but it’s not realistic. People often get discouraged and quit exercising once they realize that the weight will not melt away in a matter of weeks, and these expectations are unreasonable, and the goals projected are unobtainable. Fitness trends like these often tell you how to work out, spending six-to-eight grueling hours in a gym, but not how to eat and work out on your own. They often deliver a quick fix and say goodbye without teaching people the keys on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
e: Any future plans?
KDM: The future is not set in stone, as I take each day as it comes and focus on that day alone. I plan on maintaining my studio clients because training is one of my biggest passions, but I also hope to expand further in the culinary aspect of it all as well. Cooking classes and private dinners will increase in frequency as the months progress, and saying that a healthy cafe may open in the future is not unrealistic. Pairing with Kymberlei DiNapoli from Taste the Olive has opened more doors in the way of inspiration, events and cooking classes, and continuing this relationship will only increase the quality and frequency of these events. The one thing I know for sure is that DeMarco Studios will never become corporate. I feel that being involved in the corporate world would make everything too impersonal, and that the goals and personal relationships between client and trainer would disappear.
e: Besides the information on your Web site, is there anything else you want the general public to know about DeMarco Studio?
KDM: All natural products are the most effective in healthy eating, and you don’t have to limit yourself when it comes to these. You can create the most flavorful dishes with spices, herbs, citrus, and even oils and vinegars. Taste the Olive offers over 40 different varieties of these products, all natural and extremely flavorful, so even something as simple as a salad can become gourmet. There are recipes and cooking tips on both www.tastetheolive.com and www.demarcofit.com that can aid you in your new culinary ventures.
One thing I would like people to remember is that DeMarco Studios is a beneficial and often necessary tool to aid in the changing process, but I am only as effective as the effort put in by each and every client.
e: Any guilty pleasures?
KDM: Even with being the sole individual behind this business, I still have time for a few. These include red and white Spanish wines, dark chocolate M & Ms, kettle corn and days off (not too often, but trips to the beach, hiking and reading always fill up that small amount of time). I feel that guilty pleasures definitely deserve as much enjoyment as everything else in life!