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. But his most recent 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 his fellow culinary crusaders.
“I try to eat healthy, 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 10 miles in the course of a day across our space that’s 28,000 square feet,” Scott says. “I used to have back and neck aches and get tired fast, but now I can do a 12-hour day, no problem.”
Her recipe for success? Embracing a philosophy that variety is not the spice of life. Bringing consistent breakfasts, such as grapefruit and toast with butter, and lunches, like 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.