Sure, Swedish-born chef Gabriel Hedlund is a Michelin star winner. But seeing his lean physique and massive bi’s, it’s words like “fitness freak” not “full-time foodie” that instantly spring to mind.
One of his secrets: the vegetable-heavy, intrinsically healthy New Nordic fare (like raw mackerel with nasturtium, green tomatoes, and horseradish) he’s become famous for. But Hedlund follows an even simplier diet as home and sticks to a strict fitness regimen, too.
We asked the chef, whose new joint N’eat (short for “Nordic eatery”) just opened in NYC, for specifics.
How do you balance a chef’s lifestyle—crazy hours, tons of food—with staying fit?
It’s about staying focused. What I cook at the restaurant is all about flavor; what I cook at home is more like what every bodybuilder eats—some variation on plain rice, chicken, and broccoli.
I’m sure it’s great chicken and broccoli.
It could be better!
What’s your workout regimen?
I run outside four mornings a week before work and go to the gym six times a week, but I’m so hooked. I have a hard time taking a rest day. I use mostly dumbbells and barbells—not machines that much, but when I do, the simpler the better.
What’s your favorite healthy snack?
The pancakes I make for breakfast. Just oatmeal, eggs, peanut butter, and banana—but they’re so good, I feel guilty about them.
Burgers. And I’m a sucker for French fries.
Kitchen utensil you couldn’t live without?
My Ninja blender!
Three things that are always in your refrigerator?
Chicken, eggs, and vegetables.
All of them. I always have seven or eight different vegetables in the fridge.
Favorite off-duty drink?
Hendrick’s Gin and tonic, with a cucumber slice.
What’s an uncommon ingredient guys should get familiar with?
Buckwheat. Most people nowadays are terrified of eating wheat flour—and carbs in general—but buckwheat is a seed, not a grain. You don’t feel bloated, it has a lot more protein, and it doesn’t react in the body like other flours do. And it tastes great.