Whenever I meet someone new and tell them I’m a chef, they usually get all excited and ask something along the lines of, “Ooo, what did you make for dinner last night?,” or “You must eat so well!” The truth is, most chefs I know eat quite poorly. Think about the lifestyle of a cook: you’re either getting up at 4 a.m. to go bake bread all day, or getting back home at 3 a.m. after standing and roasting meat all night. You eat at weird times of the day, sometimes spend hours tasting minor variations of the same sauce, will occasionally stuff your face with leftover pasta, and many times your only meal is the wings & beer you have after work. Pretty much the least healthy lifestyle ever, and it hardly leaves any time for home cooking.
About a year ago, I realized the toll that making $10/hour, not having health insurance, and sleeping at strange times of the day was having on my health. I was cranky, not sleeping well, and completely antisocial due to my strange work schedule. Thankfully, I found a job with some great women where I earn a living wage, have health insurance, and have Saturday and Sunday off. Sure, I still work a lot, but it’s on a much more reasonable scale.
Now that I’ve finished steamrolling myself with restaurant jobs, I’ve realized how sad it is that this is an acceptable way of life for cooks and chefs. Even where I work now, most of my co-workers (and those of the companies we share our kitchen space with) don’t take time to eat healthy meals, or will work through the whole day without taking time to eat. Sometimes there will be scraps of cake, marshmallows, or whatever someone is making that we’ll all descend upon, but spending the day eating cake makes most of us less than pleasant to be around.
Personally, after working in pastry kitchens for a few years, I was prone to this syndrome as well. I don’t have the willpower of many chefs, and would taste test ice cream and eat cupcake scraps ALL DAY. This lead to severe sugar crashes and an uptick in my anxiety. Now, I’ve realized that this is an absurd way to live, especially for a chef. Aren’t we supposed to be setting the example for our society, emphasizing the importance of cooking to a healthy lifestyle? Yet none of us eat breakfast or cook our own meals?
So now I’m on a crusade, attempting to convert my co-workers and friends to the world of healthy eating. I mean, how easy is it to make a healthy breakfast? SO EASY, you guys. Grab a yogurt. Pour some milk over cereal. Spread some peanut butter on a piece of bread. This is not about perfecting your omelet technique at 7:30 in the morning. This is stuff you can do before you’ve had the benefit of coffee. As for me, I’m making homemade salads and snacking on Siggi’s yogurt, but I don’t expect to convert everyone overnight. All I ask is that the first thing you eat be something that’s good for you. Is that such a lofty goal?