Hi all. I’ve been traveling like mad this past week and haven’t had much downtime or internet access, but I’m plowing through the well over 600 survey responses and countless emails I’ve received and will be back in regular publishing action shortly.
Meanwhile, this week I spoke with chefs Seamus Mullen, George Mendes, Marco Canora and Jon Bonnell about the physical toll that chef life can take, the effect it has on their psyche and how they took control of their wellbeing. From my interviews:
“There’s this strange deal in this industry where unhealthy habits are celebrated. Chefs are supposed to be fat and drink and smoke, maybe do some drugs and die in their 50s.”
“We’re constantly poured in do many different directions with running a restaurant, being a chef, being a cook, being a leader, being a coach, being a business owner. Your attention is needed in so many different areas. We’re typical candidates for ADD.
You get to a point where you’re losing track of how you’re feeling, yourself. You lose that sense of being. You lose that sense of wellbeing. There would be moments where I just thought wow, let me just stop for one second to feel my feet on the ground. Let me look up for one second. I wasn’t doing that much anymore.
It was more like waking up after a few hours of sleep, feeling like shit, drinking a ton of coffee, running to work and being bombarded in every direction by having to put or a fire here, problem with this, then trying to be creative. You really can’t create in that frame of mind. Everything began to suffer. That’s what I was experiencing. It took that realization from girlfriend, from family, that things weren’t going right.”
“It’s no secret that the lifestyle of your average chef is not one that’s typically very healthy. We tend to work a lot, really hard, drink a lot, party a lot, not rest a lot and don’t take care of ourselves. That’s totally feasible for most people in their twenties, but the reality is that you can run on cigarettes and coffee for your twenties and have a fair amount of energy and then your body starts to change as you get older.”
” I think it’s kind of a growing-up thing. Earlier on, you find yourself out to dinner with a bunch of dudes and it’s not the cool thing to say no, I’m not drinking or no I’m not going to eat that or why don’t you want more? I’m full and I’m done. There’s always that, but I’m happily over it. I’m not there anymore.
If you’re the one guy out, there’s a lot of that nudging and peer pressure.”
Read more about the changes they made in “Health, Yeah!” on Tasting Table