Canadian Cycling Magazine

Guest Chef

Justin Walker’s roast salmon

- by Melanie Chambers

“You want food that makes you feel good.”

“Cooking in a restaurant is physically and mentally challengin­g. You just never stop. You need to be as efficient, and neat as possible – and fast. You can’t make mistakes,” says Justin Walker.

Growing up as a Division 1 alpine ski racer in the U.S. with an intense training regimen, Walker began cycling as a way to recover. Now in his early 40s, the restaurate­ur, who also races cyclocross, owns a bucolic farm-to-table restaurant in south Maine, called Walkers Main, with his wife Danielle. They and their son Jackson are the sixth generation to live in the family farmhouse in New England alongside the chickens, ducks, 30 dairy goats and barn cats.

The menu at Walkers Main is inspired by the local produce and the farm, but also Walker’s athletic background: “We try to balance fat and taste. We use butter, but not a lot. Instead, we use olive oil and alternativ­es like avocado oil,” he says. He even takes this ethos to his rides. “I know that I have to eat fat before a race. If I don’t, there’s an obvious change in performanc­e.”

As a cook for Rooted Vermont, a weekend bike and food festival, Walker shared his roasted salmon with participan­ts. The recipe is tasty, healthy, and popular: “I always make a point of cooking real food at these events. You want food that makes you feel good. Last year, I made 40 lb. of salmon and it was the first to go,” he says.

These days, he’s managing the kitchen and training, thanks to some expert help. He gets coached by Canadian cyclocross champion Michael van den Ham through Cycle-smart. “I need someone telling me what to do and Michael is a super cool and supportive guy,” Walker says.


1 lb. skin-on salmon filet

1 tbsp chile flakes

1 tbsp fresh thyme,

1 tsp black pepper, ground 2 garlic cloves, sliced

½ cup sweet onion, sliced 1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 300 F.

2. Place salmon filet skin side down on a roasting pan. Rub filet first with the black pepper then sprinkle with the sea salt. Drizzle the filet with maple syrup. Sprinkle the filet with the chile flakes, and then the chopped thyme. Lay the sliced onions and sliced garlic on the filet.

3. Allow the filet to marinate at room temperatur­e for one hour before cooking.

4. Cook fish for 20 minutes or until desired firmness.

Serves 3

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