Like a lot of chefs, Seamus Mullen spent the first decade of his culinary career in a singular pursuit of flavor. Then, suddenly, his health deteriorated, beginning with chronic pain and uncontrolled weight gain, culminating in a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. At age 33, this onetime bike racer thought his active life was over. Then he began exploring the powerful link between diet and illness, including rheumatoid arthritis as well as heart disease, cancer, and depression. He made some discoveries that changed his life. “I think food should be joyful, it should give pleasure, it should be indulgent,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean it’s got to be a triple-patty grease-burger with foie gras mayonnaise.” Mullen points out that a plate of Ibérico ham (fatty but full of good cholesterol) or an heirloom tomato salad with burrata cheese (packed with omega-3s) is pretty damn indulgent and yet still provides our bodies with things we need. Mullen’s approach is all about the intersection of health and pleasure, and he spells out his emergent food philosophy in his book Seamus Mullen’s Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better.
Now 39, Mullen is back at the top of his game. His first New York restaurant, Boqueria, remains as popular as ever, and he’s brought his hero-food philosophy — laid out here — to the table at his newest Manhattan restaurants, Tertulia and El Colmado. He’s also back on that mountain bike.
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