Lentine’s fondness for kitchen alchemy shed new light on her interest in international diplomacy once she realized that food could be more powerful than politics or policy. After culinary school and a brief stint in the restaurant world, she found her happy place somewhere between the stove and the saddle. Today, she’s the mastermind behind Skratch Labs’ cookie mix, a recipe developer, and a full-time adventure artisan based in Colorado. We caught up with her as she prepares to host a bike tour in Sonoma Wine Country.
What was the first step towards becoming a chef in the world of sport?
I went to college hellbent on changing the world—I wanted to work in international development, or even be a spy, something in the clandestine world. But I was also the person who kept a box beneath my dorm room bed stocked with ingredients to make cookies. That was a constant in my life.
When did cycling enter the picture?
I’ve been an athlete my whole life, but I bought a time trial bike while living in Okinawa, Japan and started training for Ironman. The first time I ever raced, I qualified for the world championships and achieved my pro card shortly thereafter. Still, the most exciting part of training was figuring out how to use real food to fuel my intense racing schedule and having mini-adventures in the kitchen.
What was different about cooking in Japan?
At that time in Southeast Asia, there weren’t “energy foods” to buy and bring with you on a ride. I was living in a rural farmhouse and local farmers would bring me unusual produce, so I experimented a lot. But what I craved was carbohydrates—massive muffins and big slices of cake unlike anything in Japan. When I tried to make them, I discovered (among other obstacles) that the Japanese don’t bake using the same leaveners as we do North America.
Frustrated by my lack of scientific understanding, I returned to the United States, went to culinary school, and learned to manipulate recipes and make healthy food for my lifestyle, no matter what I had on hand or where I was in the world.
So you’ve given up your dreams of being a spy?
Part of me will always remain fascinated, but the way I approach my work and hack recipes still has that MacGyver sensibility. I’m achieving the same goals I had for wanting to be a diplomat: using my resources and energy to help other people, except this way is more effective. Cookies cut through red tape!
How does your passion for food and cycling fit together?
Being on your bicycle opens you up to sensory experiences. You’re smelling things in the air and feeling the wind in your face—every sense is heightened, including taste. There is scientific evidence that we perform better when we eat food that nourishes us emotionally. Our performance improves when we eat with other people, and when we’re listening to our cravings and giving those things to our body.
What three things always come with you when you travel?
Little packets of almond butter, because I always get hungry when there’s nothing suitable to eat! A little black dress and tubes of my favorite hand lotion and lip balm make sure I’m ready for anything in a pinch.
Tell us about the power of all-women’s rides.
It’s all about camaraderie and trust, without judgment. Women understand each other and the challenges we face as a gender, so riding together makes us stronger as a community. It doesn’t matter whether you’re cycling, skiing, or running—that group of ladies as a support system is crucial, especially when you’re pushing yourself and trying to find your comfort zone on the bike.
What’s so special about riding in Napa and Sonoma?
This is some of the best riding in the world. The climbs are second to none with inspiring viewpoints everywhere you look. Every year to celebrate my birthday, I ride many of the same roads as the Sonoma Wine Country Women’s Bike Tour. It’s a longstanding personal tradition; Sonoma has become part of who I am as a rider and a chef.
Is there a particular ingredient from this region you love using in recipes?
There’s so much goodness available in this region at this time of year! I love Meyer lemons and figs, and both always seem to be on the menu in Sonoma. This part of California always feels like one massive, magical garden to me, with new ingredients always waiting to be discovered.
What can women joining you on your Sonoma Wine Country Bike Tour expect?
Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time here with friends new to the sport and pro cyclists alike. The quality and accessibility of the roads blows everyone away. I’ve scouted the best of the best and pieced together my favorite scenery, routes, and unmissable food like a patchwork quilt. All you have to do is enjoy the ride!