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7 Things You Didn't Know About Peruvian Chef Franco Noriega

7 Things You Didn't Know About Peruvian Chef Franco Noriega

Franco Noriega

The Peruvian restaurateur may not wear a shirt very often, but he’s still able to keep a few surprises up his sleeve.

When the phrase "celebrity chef" pops up, many picture hot-tempered Brit Gordon Ramsay or spiked-and-bleached Guy Fieri. Big personalities dominate in an industry known for namesake restaurants, addicting reality television shows, cookware lines, recipe books and speaking engagements,

But what about those that don't exactly fit the mold? Enter Peruvian chef Franco Noriega. While his face may not be on the side of a Vegas billboard (yet), purveyors of the internet may recognize him for something else altogether. Noriega began catching the collective eye of the web about a year ago, when his cooking videos started going viral--for obvious reasons.

But Noriega is more than just a toned body on YouTube. Here are seven things you may not know about the Peruvian restaurateur, which hopefully might give you a little more than skin-deep appreciation for his talents.

He started out as a model

This one probably isn't surprising, especially when you add that he did a fair amount of underwear modeling, too. All you need is one look at his gym-toned body to know any underwear company would be begging him to slip into their skivvies. Noriega modeled for such designer brands as Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Roberto Cavalli, Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss. He even worked as a creative director for Macy's.

He's an Olympian

Before moving to New York in 2007, Noriega was a competitive swimmer, competing in the 2004 Olympics in Greece.

He commutes by bike or by skateboard

In an effort to stay fit during his hectic schedule, Noriega bikes or skateboards around New York City. When talking with GQ in 2016, Noriega admits, "I commute on my skateboard or my bicycle. ... [T]hat's how I move around in New York. My workouts are incorporated into my life. I also go to the gym like five or six times a week and I work out for 45 minutes." And it shows!

He was discovered by famed photographer Mario Testino

After two years in New York studying to be an actor at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, internationally acclaimed fashion photographer Mario Testino discovered Noriega's modeling potential. It wasn't long before Noriega signed his first major modeling contract with Dolce & Gabbana.

He was featured on Ellen

Last fall, while promoting the opening of his new restaurant, Noriega hit the big time, booking an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He clearly was a hit with Ellen's majority fanbase -- straight women and gay men.

He participated on Univision's Mira Quien Baila

Also known as MQB, this Spanish version of Dancing with the Stars featured Peru's famous chef on their most recent season. While he was ultimately eliminated from the competition, Noriega left audiences with several memorable (and shirtless) dances, including a sexy salsa and a steamy tango.

Food is in his blood

Noriega's parents own bakeries in Peru, and his sister is also a restaurant owner in their home country. Noriega thanks his upbringing and Peru's access to healthy and flavorful ingredients as inspiration for where he is today. In his interview with GQ, Noriega admitted, "Coming from my background, though ... one thing my parents never did was jeopardize flavor for health. At my house, if we had to make a salad, we would make sure that it was off-the-charts delicious. I never felt like I was on a diet. That's how Baby Brasa came about."

From stunning underwear model to equally stunning restaurant owner, Franco Noriega proves beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive. Who's ready to book a table?

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