C.J. Wilson could've called up a culinary school. Or asked around at one of his favorite restaurants. Nope. The Rangers starting pitcher found his private chef in a much more unorthodox manner.
"He was actually in a band with my brother," Wilson says. "He plays drums."
That would be Aaron Elliott, affectionately known as Hoss. (Find him on Twitter: @xhossx). He's the man entrusted with the sophisticated palate and strict diet of the man who'll take the mound in Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night.
"In the position that I'm in, I have to feel like I can trust people that are around me," Wilson says. "So it's nice to have someone you have years and years with."
Wilson used to cook for himself, but hired Hoss so that he could focus on other things and be more efficient. That doesn't mean he's without say when it comes to the menu. In fact, Wilson is incredibly specific on what he will and won't eat.
"Ever since I had Tommy John surgery (in 2003), I figured my health and my strength was gonna run 100 percent through my diet," he says.
At home, everything Wilson puts into his body is organic. He won't touch processed foods, especially fast food, and doesn't eat dairy either. His true particularities, though, don't start to come out until he talks about protein. He avoids chicken, but turkey is okay. And in what's either a hat tip to Texas cattle ranchers or a shot at cardiologists, Wilson says he tries to eat as much red meat as possible.
However, it's when he's away from home and his chef that his diet presents the biggest challenge.
"When I'm on the road, I have to be very careful because I can't trust any of the restaurants," Wilson says.
He cites the logistical issues and expense of finding a new kitchen in every city as the reasons he leaves Hoss behind. So he survives by seeking out markets that offer what he needs when the team is traveling, and he supplements that by taking plenty of rations with him. One of his road staples is a version of trail mix made with macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, almonds, goji berries, and coconut flakes. He calls it "Hoss mix," one of many things named after his chef.
"It's like the Hoss sauce or Hoss of Pancakes," he says with a laugh.
Elliott might not have graduated from Johnson and Wales, but he can definitely cook. His parents used to own an Italian restaurant when he was a kid, and that’s where he was introduced to food. And Wilson says those vegan pancakes are "probably one of the most delicious things ever."
The Rangers pitcher will be without his chef in St. Louis to start the Fall Classic, but this could be his last series without him. Wilson will be a free agent after this season and in line for a big payday. Whether it's enough to bring Elliott on the road remains to be seen.
"Maybe after this next contract I can afford to do that," Wilson says.
For now, the Rangers ace will have to rely on his filthy stuff and a handful of Hoss mix.
-- Jason Sickles contributed to this report.
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