As we honor the New Year’s resolutions that many of us have made around getting healthy and eating clean in the new year, contributor Carley Thornell chatted with culinary professionals to find out how chefs stay healthy every day.
For chef Andy Husbands, his usual road trips include eating barbecue at about 30 places in four days as research for such restaurants as Tremont 647 and the new Smoke Shop. Earlier this year, his most ambitious adventure was burning off the calories by cycling 300 miles over three days for the No Kid Hungry charity, raising more than $2 million along with other culinary crusaders.
“I try to eat healthily, and I run and do a couple of bike trips a year, but nothing too crazy — but Chefs Cycle was definitely the craziest thing I’ve done!,” says Husbands. “Being on the line is so physically demanding that it can be a challenge to work out, but that was something else.”
The burnt-end baron says the hours of training inspired him to occasionally take to two wheels to get to work when the New England weather cooperates.
Whether it’s for stress relief, exercise or eating in moderation, a growing number of chefs are embracing healthier habits to keep them in fighting shape for behind the stove. For chef Deborah Scott of Coasterra, it was a do-or-die situation that led her to dieting—and a healthier way of life after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes eight years ago.
“Saying you are what you eat has a lot of validity, and I just made the decision that I didn’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life,” she said. “I didn’t want to be unhealthy anymore and if I can make the adjustments to my diet and eating habits, I can be in control — and I like to be in control!”
Now whittled down to a size 6 from a 16, Scott has cut out grazing at work, dairy, 90 percent of carbs, and all sugar (except what is naturally in fruit). She says for her it’s not so much about exercise as controlling her eating habits, “although I probably walk about ten miles in the course of a day across our space that’s twenty-eight-thousand square feet,” Scott says. “I used to have back and neck aches and get tired fast, but now I can do a twelve-hour day no problem.”
Her recipe for success? Embracing a philosophy that variety is not the spice of life. Bringing consistent breakfasts, like grapefruit and toast with butter, and lunches, such as salads with turkey, mean there are fewer opportunities to graze and indulge. It’s the same for chef Roger Waysok of Chicago’s South Water Kitchen, who eats a “chef’s bowl” every morning of quinoa, asparagus, egg whites, turkey sausage, avocado, and spinach. He doesn’t drink coffee, so sencha green tea shots packed in a cooler give him an added boost of energy throughout long days.
Breakfast is also the healthiest meal of the day for chef Mark Jeffers, who eats organic yogurt, housemade granola, and berries before a long day at Manzanita, where he uses the freshest and best produce that comes in from local farms. While his personal tip is to keep a well-stocked refrigerator to whip up quick and healthy meals during chefs’ inconsistent off hours, the focus on a healthy lifestyle at The Ritz-Carlton mountain resort in Tahoe has resulted in a mouthwatering menu of such morning specialties as avocado egg toasts on nine-grain bread, chia pudding with raspberry coulis, a Greek yogurt smoothie, and a chicken sausage frittata with egg whites.Continue Reading