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Fast-growing food company woos new top chef

Chris Austin has a diverse background in the food industry.

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  • | 8:50 a.m. December 6, 2020
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Chris Austin.
Chris Austin.
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Healthy lifestyle and wellness-based meal firm Fitlife Foods has grown significantly since it was founded a decade ago, from revenue and employees to cooking/preparation space and meal selections.  

Add one more kernel to the growth: The Tampa-based company recently named Chris Austin, a James Beard scholarship recipient, its new executive chef. A Tampa native, Austin had mostly been executive chef at the University of Tampa, a post he held for since 2017.

Focusing on French Mediterranean cuisine — with a side of Southeast Asian and Yucatan — Austin, according to a statement, will oversee all culinary creations across the 12 Fitlife Foods locations. He’s already created a number of new meals on the Fitlife menu, including Butternut Coconut Curry, Apple & Sage Meatloaf, Classic Pot Roast, Autumn Harvest Bowl and Apricot Glazed Chicken. Fitlife, growing the menu partially to serve its rapidly expanding customer base of weekly home deliveries, is also releasing eight new meals in early January. That will give the company more than 70 meals on its menu.

“Chef Chris is a perfect match for Fitlife, to bring mind-blowing flavors to our time-starved and goal-driven consumers,” Fitlife Foods Founder David Osterweil says in the release. “He shares our passion for flavorful, innovative and healthy meals, and most importantly aligns with our core focus of elevating the way people feel.”

Austin, after graduating from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, worked in some of Northern California’s most renowned fine dining restaurants, according to the statement. The list includes Gary Danko, Fleur de Lys, Hawthorn Lane, Acquerello and Farallon. From 2005 to 2013, he was the executive chef for Whole Foods Northern California Region, where he helped pioneer the nationally recognized “Health Starts Here” program.


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