authentic stories from the frontlines of grass-fed
ButcherBox Chef Yankel Polak. Chefs and health: How to truly eat well

One challenging aspect of finding a career that you love can be, sometimes, loving it too much.

This is especially true for chefs.

The reasons I became a chef are quite simple: I love good food, and I love cooking and creating amazing meals. This is true for a vast majority of chefs. It is quite likely that we also might enjoy eating a bit too much.

Turn on the Food Network, look at the cover of any famous chef’s cookbook, or just pick up a can of Chef Boyardee. It is easy to observe that it is an accepted cultural norm for our trusted chefs to be a little on the plump side. Some have argued that a portly disposition has been seen as something comforting and a sign of a good cook at various times in history.

It is a reality that chefs often find it difficult to eat healthily. (An unhealthy cook doesn’t necessarily have to be overweight either, there is plenty of junk one can easily consume in the day-to-day bustle of a kitchen.)

Some of the reasons that chefs often don’t eat well are obvious, like access to copious amounts of food, but some are less so.

Generally, there isn’t much time to sit and eat throughout the day. Sometimes, you can spend an entire day tasting intensely concentrated flavors until your palate is totally overwhelmed and exhausted. After this flavor bombardment, when you are hungry, you don’t necessarily care about the saveur of what you are putting in your gut. This is often why the food you find at places that cater to late-night service industry dining guests is often burgers and cheap beer — that and the truth that many kitchen workers make a pittance. There were plenty of jobs where all I ate for sustenance were PBJ sandwiches and instant ramen.

So what is the key to eating healthy, for both chefs and anyone else?

Plan ahead.

For one, always get good, simple ingredients. Second, make sure you identify the times of day that you are vulnerable to poor eating choices, and have a meal ready for those instances. 

It helps to be able to have access to grass-fed beef, heritage breed pork, free-range chicken and other more naturally healthy food choices that ButcherBox provides to its customers each month.

As far as making healthy food interesting, find ways to boost flavors, while using minimal ingredients. Season thoughtfully and thoroughly. This is something you will find with many of our ButcherBox recipes and the cooking advice we share.

There are quite a few other best and worst industry eating habits, that you can discover by talking to other chefs, which you can use in your chef career or in your own lives in general.

God only knows how many family meals I ate out of a quart container leaning over a trash can.