Summary

Meet Clifton Lyles, expedition racing athlete extraordinaire, talented chef, and Thistle’s Chief Manufacturing and Innovation Officer.

Buckle up. It’s time to get to know accomplished Thistle team member Clifton Lyles. He’s a chef, father, husband, traveler, and Captain of Team Onyx – the nation’s first all-Black expedition racing team. 

What inspired you to pursue a culinary career?

My mom wasn’t a great cook, so I started cooking for myself in high school and throughout college. I cooked lots of Italian – things like lasagna and pasta with bolognese sauce. I watched the original Iron Chef when it was only in Japanese.

I started out wanting to be a lawyer, but I also wanted to know how to cook professionally. I met amazing chefs who taught me about foods I’d never even eaten. They opened my eyes to the world of food. I fell in love with the artistry and intensity. It was a chance to explore my creative side. It’s surprisingly similar to my experience as an athlete – there’s artistry, intensity, and creativity in that pursuit, too.

What role does plant-based eating play in your life?

It’s a huge part of my life. With all of the ultra and endurance racing I do, my body needs more time to heal in order to stay competitive. Plant-based eating helps me do that. I’d say I eat 80-90% plant-based now.

What one or two dishes do you always enjoy serving to friends and family? 

Northern Italian cuisine; dishes like braised meats and polenta. It’s most similar to what I grew up with. 

What’s your favorite city for food? 

Vancouver, Canada. So much quality and variety in such a small space; it’s very diverse. Also San Francisco. My favorite restaurant in San Francisco is Atelier Crenn, a very special French restaurant.

What advice would you share with someone who wants to pursue a career in food? 

Work in the industry a little bit before going to culinary school. Make sure you love it. You have to love it.

Describe your leadership style  

I’m an engaged and passionate servant-leader who looks at the bigger picture. I’m always thinking about how to structure the team. What are they passionate about and how can we bring that to the forefront? 

What’s a valuable piece of advice you’d share with your 21-year-old self?  

It’s not always about how hard you work; it’s more about who you work with. I was taught to work hard, with a midwest work ethic, but I wish I made choices to pick better people to work with. It’s not necessarily about the chef and reputation of the place, but more about the friends, peers, and colleagues at work. 

How do you recharge?

I do different things at different times. Exercise for sure. And movies – they’re a good escape. But I stay away from animated movies because they make me cry. The last movies I saw in the theater were The Matrix Resurrection and The 355.

With so many amazing achievements already, what’s another goal that you're working toward? 

I’m looking to take the national title for men’s mountain biking for ages 50+. I placed 3rd in the nation last year. I also want to leave a legacy of people who I’ve been able to help have healthy careers in the food business.

To keep up with Clifton and Team Onyx (not in a physical sense though, because few can do that!), check out their Instagram profiles: Clifton Lyles and Team Onyx.


Get meals delivered to your door
We believe eating delicious is crucial to a healthy diet. Each week, our team of chefs design a new menu for what's in season, fresh and flavorful.
TRY THISTLE
Posted 
Feb 18, 2022
 in 
Community
 category.
Summary

Meet Clifton Lyles, expedition racing athlete extraordinaire, talented chef, and Thistle’s Chief Manufacturing and Innovation Officer.

Buckle up. It’s time to get to know accomplished Thistle team member Clifton Lyles. He’s a chef, father, husband, traveler, and Captain of Team Onyx – the nation’s first all-Black expedition racing team. 

What inspired you to pursue a culinary career?

My mom wasn’t a great cook, so I started cooking for myself in high school and throughout college. I cooked lots of Italian – things like lasagna and pasta with bolognese sauce. I watched the original Iron Chef when it was only in Japanese.

I started out wanting to be a lawyer, but I also wanted to know how to cook professionally. I met amazing chefs who taught me about foods I’d never even eaten. They opened my eyes to the world of food. I fell in love with the artistry and intensity. It was a chance to explore my creative side. It’s surprisingly similar to my experience as an athlete – there’s artistry, intensity, and creativity in that pursuit, too.

What role does plant-based eating play in your life?

It’s a huge part of my life. With all of the ultra and endurance racing I do, my body needs more time to heal in order to stay competitive. Plant-based eating helps me do that. I’d say I eat 80-90% plant-based now.

What one or two dishes do you always enjoy serving to friends and family? 

Northern Italian cuisine; dishes like braised meats and polenta. It’s most similar to what I grew up with. 

What’s your favorite city for food? 

Vancouver, Canada. So much quality and variety in such a small space; it’s very diverse. Also San Francisco. My favorite restaurant in San Francisco is Atelier Crenn, a very special French restaurant.

What advice would you share with someone who wants to pursue a career in food? 

Work in the industry a little bit before going to culinary school. Make sure you love it. You have to love it.

Describe your leadership style  

I’m an engaged and passionate servant-leader who looks at the bigger picture. I’m always thinking about how to structure the team. What are they passionate about and how can we bring that to the forefront? 

What’s a valuable piece of advice you’d share with your 21-year-old self?  

It’s not always about how hard you work; it’s more about who you work with. I was taught to work hard, with a midwest work ethic, but I wish I made choices to pick better people to work with. It’s not necessarily about the chef and reputation of the place, but more about the friends, peers, and colleagues at work. 

How do you recharge?

I do different things at different times. Exercise for sure. And movies – they’re a good escape. But I stay away from animated movies because they make me cry. The last movies I saw in the theater were The Matrix Resurrection and The 355.

With so many amazing achievements already, what’s another goal that you're working toward? 

I’m looking to take the national title for men’s mountain biking for ages 50+. I placed 3rd in the nation last year. I also want to leave a legacy of people who I’ve been able to help have healthy careers in the food business.

To keep up with Clifton and Team Onyx (not in a physical sense though, because few can do that!), check out their Instagram profiles: Clifton Lyles and Team Onyx.


Get meals delivered to your door
We believe eating delicious is crucial to a healthy diet. Each week, our team of chefs design a new menu for what's in season, fresh and flavorful.
TRY THISTLE
Posted 
Feb 18, 2022
 in 
Community
 category.