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After Phelps won the last 6 of his 22 overall medals at the 2012 London Games, Bowman took a nine-month sabbatical from coaching. He passed the time he normally spent in the broiler oven that is the pool deck over a hot stove, trying to duplicate the meals he watched Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa, prepare on her show on the Food Network.
The herb-marinated pork tenderloin was a rousing success, as was the plum crunch that Bowman served for dessert. The braised four-hour leg of lamb with white beans became another of his favorites. For Bowman, cooking offered a palatable substitute for coaching, with meal plans as structured as his workouts and a successful result hinging on the preparation.
Unlike coaching, cooking is a stress reducer for Bowman, who can feel any tension fall away like perfectly cooked turkey meat from the bone when he is stirring and chopping and mixing. The lone exception is Gartenâ€™s soufflÃ© recipe, which Bowmanâ€™s fear of failure has so far prevented him from trying, never mind that it takes only 15 minutes to prepare and another 30 minutes to cook and has been successfully executed by countless others.
â€œI have soufflÃ© anxiety,â€ Bowman said, laughing.