Cleveland chef loses weight for Food Network show

Fahrenheit chef sheds more than 124 pounds

CLEVELAND - Fahrenheit owner and chef Rocco Whalen has battled weight since he was a boy growing up in Mentor. His Italian mother was an inspirational cook, but losing her five years ago at the age of 56 years to diabetes and cancer struck a chord in Whalen to tune up his 400-pound body or face the same fate way too young.

Last summer, while Whalen was in New York City working with a casting company hoping to work on some type of cooking segments for television, he brought up the idea to get chefs to do a Biggest Loser-type of show. He was soon contacted by the Food Network and found himself trying out with 4,500 other chefs to compete for a chance.

Whalen was chosen with 11 others from around the country and by Sept. 1 they were shooting segments for the beginning of a grueling 16-week workout and diet regimen. The show, called "Fat Chef," will air Thursday at 10 p.m. on Food Network, so all we know so far is that Rocco tipped the scales in the 260-range by the Jan. 2, 2012 weigh-in.

While he is quick to thank fellow chef, Michael Symon for opening "garage-size doors" for the many Cleveland chefs now enjoying their restaurant's growth and following from any positive word from Symon, he is humbled that Cleveland and its residents are such dedicated customers.

Whalen will say this of his Thursday evening television debut; "It was a chance to lose weight for the camera in front of a couple million people, with Cleveland as my backdrop, but I guarantee you at the end of the show on Thursday night you'll know a couple things about me. You'll know how much I appreciate the people here and how Cleveland proud I am."

Besides Fahrenheit, Whalen owns a downtown-traveling food truck called Short Rib 1, and a new restaurant in Quicken Loans Arena called Rocco's Nachos and Tacos, all in an effort to make Clevelanders happy and give them something other than the normal Q fare.

Interested Fahrenheit customers can go to www.fahrenheittremont.com , or www.shortrib1.com , and can also find Fahrenheit on Facebook , or call 216-781-8858

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