Chef Irvine brings own brand of health, wellness to Fort Lee
FORT LEE, Va. – Robert Irvine, celebrity chef, fitness guru, author and star of the Food Network television shows, Restaurant: Impossible and Dinner: Impossible, has a thing for the military and he’s not shy about saying it.

“One hundred fifty days a year of my being is spent with the military, understanding what it takes to be a modern day soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or coast guardsman,” Irvine said during an interview at the Defense Commissary Agency’s Fort Lee, Virginia, headquarters.

“Ultimately, food and nutrition, that’s what I do,” he added. “My love is to help those who need that in their daily lives. The commissary is part of our military and gives the added bonus of [providing] good products, teaching [patrons] how to use those products and keeping our men and women fit.”

Irvine, a 10-year veteran of the British Royal Navy, brought his unique brand of humor and personality to Fort Lee on Jan. 16, where he met service members and their families at the commissary and the exchange. The celebrity chef also is scheduled to visit the commissary and exchange at Naval Base San Diego Feb. 1.

To reinforce the chef’s message on fitness, The Robert Irvine Foundation is participating in an essay contest with commissaries and exchanges where the winner wins a cookout with Irvine. Essays must be submitted to no later Jan. 31. Patrons can also enter to win Irvine’s new cookbook, Family Table. The essay is about what the patron and their family is doing to get healthy in 2019 and beyond, and how the commissary and exchange will help them reach their wellness goal.

“As a force our lives are changing. We want a better, fitter more active force,” Irvine said. “We’ve changed the physical fitness areas in all our branches of the military, and what commissaries have done is adapt to that by giving us healthier choices, better-tasting foods, lower sugars, lower sodium, better protein bars and better protein drinks to allow us to keep up with those standards.”

For Irvine, commissaries and exchanges are a vital part of the military benefits package that supports the wellness of patrons’ wallets along with their physical health.

“When you are in the U.S. military, one of the benefits is being part of a place where you can get products at a very reduced rate and keep your family living,” he said. “If you think about the men and women who wear the cloth of our nation, we are in a salary bracket that sometimes doesn’t necessarily allow us great indulgent benefits.

“If I have a wife and two children, making $38,000 a year, for me to have a good life I have to be smart with money. Part of that smartness is using commissaries and exchanges because they offer great products at low prices and I can actually take care of my family. I call it hope. The commissaries and exchanges allow me hope to give my family the best I can give them rather than going outside and paying more money for it.”

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.
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