Mixed martial arts fans know him as a full-time fighter and soldier, but friends and family know Tim Kennedy for his fondue. Leading up to his fight with Zak Cummings at Strikeforce Challengers on Sept. 25, FIGHT! caught up with the Strikeforce middleweight to talk about how he celebrated his 30th birthday, why cooking lessons made him a fighter, and the restaurant he’d like to open after he’s done competing.
FIGHT!: You just had a birthday. How did it feel to turn 30?
It was actually pretty anticlimactic. When you’re like three weeks out from a fight, you can’t drink, you can’t eat anything. It’s like, “I’m gonna make you a cake,” and I’m like, “I can’t eat a cake. I can’t even have salt on my chicken right now.”
FIGHT!: So what did you do to celebrate?
I actually went to Gold’s Gym at like, 11:30 at night and did a strength and conditioning workout.
FIGHT!: That sounds like a hell of a birthday.
It was actually fantastic.
FIGHT!: You have a pretty familiar story as a full-time fighter and a full-time solider. What facets of your personality do you think get obscured in that characterization?
I have a very small group of people that I could say are my friends and confidants, and if you asked them that question, they’d say, “He loves to cook.” My perfect day would be at the beach, hanging out with my family and my kids. I love my dog. He sheds a lot—I have a huge white German shepherd. I also love shooting, both recreationally and occupationally. I’m not a workaholic, but I’m a workout-aholic—I really enjoy training. So usually I try to integrate all those things together. Dog. Beach. Family. Working out. Food. Bam. Perfect.
FIGHT!: Do you have any formal cooking instruction?
My mom would make my brother and I do different culinary classes when we were kids. That was actually one of the reasons why I ended up fighting: my dad would send us to different martial arts schools to try and compensate for my mom’s influence. That was when we were in grade school. When I’m all done with the military and fighting, I’m definitely going to cook a lot more and get really good at it.
FIGHT!: What are the Tim Kennedy specials?
I make a killer fondue (see below for the recipe). I’ll take some sirloins and cook those up. I’ll have a whole bunch of different breads and cheeses: Gruyere cheese, mozzarella, cheddar. Sometimes I put it in a white wine base or a beer base. Sometimes I make it kind of peppery, sometimes kind of spicy, sometimes not. And then just dip all of your stuff in the cheese and drink some wine.
FIGHT!: And what do you wash it down with?
Right now, I like an old-vine zin. I was a pinot noir guy—that was the fad for a couple of years—but right now I’m definitely loving old-vine zin.
FIGHT!: Have you had an aspirations to open a restaurant or anything?
Yeah, as long as I don’t have to do any of the business side of it—that’s why I have my wife. She’s a business mogul. I’ll just cook.
FIGHT!: What kind of restaurant would you have in a perfect world?
Oh, man. I wouldn’t mind having a really nice steakhouse that’s kind of on the shady side of town, so maybe I could get robbed every few months and just spice my life up. I don’t want to get bored in my old age—I want to keep my skills honed and sharpened. But I don’t think my wife would go for that. Maybe like an open cafe on the beach instead.
Fondue Tips from Tim Kennedy
“This is one of the easiest fondues to make,” Kennedy says.
1 garlic clove
1 ¼ cups dry wine (“I use a decent chardonnay,” Kennedy says.)
2 cups mild cheddar
1 cup Gruyere
1 cup mozzarella
A dash of pepper
Bruise the garlic, and rub it in your fondue pot. “I suggest an electric fondue pot,” Kennedy says. “And cooking oil ones are…dangerous.”
Add the wine, put the pot on medium heat, and let the wine start to cook off. As soon as it’s steaming well, start adding your cheeses. Keep stirring to prevent burning or clumping. Slice up gala, Fuji apples, different peppers, French bread, and some cooked sirloins. Sit down to watch Strikeforce Challengers on Showtime on Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. EST. Begin dipping.