The friendship between “Restaurant : Impossible” chef Robert Irvine and Twin Cities restaurant creator Steve Schussler has flexed big muscles after just a few months.

They met in Orlando when Irvine’s daughter selected Schussler’s Boathouse restaurant at Disney World as the site of her graduation dinner.

“It’s not a matter of if I’ll do business with Robert, it’s a matter of when,” Schussler told me last week. Earlier this month Irvine and his director of operations, Justin Leonard, diverted a Philly-to-Chicago trip to spend a day touring Schussler’s Twin Cities properties. The restaurant entrepreneurs are both men of strong opinions, as proven during a tour of Green Acres Event Center, a barn in Eden Prairie that Schussler has transformed into a popular wedding venue.

“Get rid of them,” Irvine said, pointing at the pop art painting of a steer. Schussler laughed and said, “It talks to you!” Irvine didn’t want to hear it; the art isn’t as classy as the venue.

Irvine loved being asked about how his peers overuse salt, because he’s introducing a product. “Gives you the mouthfeel like you’ve had salt but it’s all natural. We care about that with our men and women in uniform; same with the fat and the sugar.”

That should mean only healthy recipes are in his latest book, “Fit Fuel.”

“Food, fitness and family” are Irvine’s preoccupation, and when he and Schussler get together there is also a healthy amount of flexing, as you’ll see early at


Q: Tell readers three things they can use instead of sodium.

A: Right down my alley. To make sure you get rid of salt and sugar, you can use fresh herbs, lemon juice, lime juice, grapefruit juice, orange juice, vinegars. They actually alter the protein makeup but also the flavor profiles. Get rid of sodium; you don’t need it.


Q: Tell me about this body. How many hours a week do you spend on it? Jeremy Borash, host of “Impact Wrestling” on Destination America and Minnesota guy, told me you make people exercise when they roll with you.

A: My whole team has the mantra, “You have to work out every day.” Justin, just before we left Philadelphia this morning, we went to the gym today at 7 o’clock. Justin recently got married and he lost 25 pounds. I’m a big advocate of getting kids to cook, kids to work out and families together. And food and fitness is one of those things that go naturally. I don’t mean you have to go to a gym and work out.


Q: A Jeremy Borash story, please?

A: Yes. I actually watched him fall off a stage in Pennsylvania. And if you go on YouTube folks, it’s really good. All of a sudden he falls into the audience. He just lost his footing and I almost wet myself. It was that funny. [Less hysterical for Borash who told me via a direct Twitter message, “I got bruised up pretty good!”]


Q: You’re married to a pro wrestler?

A: Gail Kim. She works with JB [Borash] at Impact Wrestling. She’s pretty awesome.


Q: Was talking to a friend whose husband came home and when she kissed him she said, You’ve been eating chocolate and you’re not supposed to eat that. Do you ever avoid kissing your wife because of what you’ve been eating?

A: No, because I eat anything with anything and she’s the same. Sometimes she’ll eat a lot more Sriracha than I will. She’s a Sriracha Queen. She loves spice more than I do.


Q: Three celebrities you’d like to be in a band with some day?

A: Oh my God, look at that, on the spot. Brannon Braga from the real “Star Trek,” Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise. Now THAT’S a band! Oh yeah, and I could be the singer. I would suck at it but they’d be good with music.


Q: I don’t think you’re as grumpy as Gordon

A: Ramsey? No. I think his is somewhat of an act. I don’t think he’s always grumpy because I’ve heard great stories about his people staying with him forever. I know “Restaurant: Impossible” is successful as a show. I don’t know what his numbers are.


Interviews are edited. To contact C.J. try and to see her watch Fox 9’s “Jason Show.”