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Healthy Travel Tips From Top Chefs – Bloomberg

Consider the life of a chef on the road. Even when they’re not doing “research” for an upcoming project—trips that are essentially designed for overeating and drinking—they’re still likely seeking the best of what got them into the industry in the first place: damn good food. 

Chefs may consume multiple meals a day in search of the best local barbecue, the top fried chicken, the most delicate dumplings. (If they’re researching classic French cuisine, those trips might clock in at around 8,000 calories a day.) It’s equally intense for bartenders who are exploring a new city and its drinking options.

Coincidentally or not, as traveling chefs and bartenders become ever more commonplace, they are increasingly health-conscious.

Notable chefs such as Missy Robbins of Lilia in New York lost 40 pounds by cooking with less butter and saturated fat; in the bartending world, PDT’s Jim Meehan has dropped 15 pounds by eating and drinking more thoughtfully. Sam Anderson, who oversees the drinks at Mission Chinese Food, has become such an avid runner that he’s featured in Adidas AG’s recent running ad campaign.

So what does this mean for mere civilians? Get the best food and drinks you can in the city you’re visiting, these pros say. But when you feel guilty about any over-indulgences, see the tips below.

BYO Coffee

Who Says:  Jim Meehan, bartender/co-owner, PDT in New York

Tip: “I’m on the road every 10 days, with a lot of meetings. When you’re constantly in other time zones, it’s hard to schedule the gym. I travel with coffee—it’s a very important reset button for me, and the quality can vary so drastically, depending on where you are. I drink a cup the morning and at 4 p.m., wherever in the world I am. I used to travel with a French press machine, but it always broke. Now I have the rambler kit from Stumptown. It includes an AeroPress maker and metal cups and Stumptown beans.”


Pack Some Sushi—Then Hit the Bike Lane

Who Says:  Bruce and Eric Bromberg, chef/owners, Blue Ribbon Restaurants

Tip: “When flying, we always try to bring sushi or hand rolls from one of our restaurants. It’s an easy and healthy meal to consume on the plane.” Wherever you’re headed, they recommend picking a hotel with good cycling opportunities—“it’s a sport that is very important to both of us. The key is to find a hotel on the outskirts of town and arrange meetings so that you can fit in a ride early or late in the day. Since flying with a bike can be very cumbersome, we rent from the local bike shop.” Not only will you get a good bike, they’ll always have suggestions for a good 30-plus mile ride, too. 


Restock Your Mini Bar

Who Says: Jin Chong, chef, Bartaco in Reston, Va.

Tip: “When I’m traveling for work, I stock my hotel fridge with kombucha.” The fermented beverage is said to aid digestion and weight loss. “It’s a regular part of my home diet, a big immune system booster. My wife and I make kombucha together with our kids—it’s a big family bonding activity.” Chong also tries to eat small meals throughout the day, so that even if he leaves work late, he’s not hungry enough to “indulge in an excessive meal.”


Stash Protein-Packed Treats

Who Says: Akhtar Nawab, chef/owner, Alta Calidad in Brooklyn and New Punjab Club in Hong Kong (opening soon)

Tip: “Always pack things to snack on to avoid airplane food. Since it’s tough to get real, significant protein on a plane, I usually pack roasted beef jerky that we make (off the menu), plus a crunchy apple, and plant protein powder.” Nawab isn’t the only chef who champions beef jerky: Chef Seamus Mullen, who saved his own life by changing his diet, uses beef jerky as a secret weapon on flights.


Do Running Recon

A post shared by Sam Anderson (@sam4nderson) on Jul 13, 2017 at 12:51pm PDT

Who Says : Sam Anderson, Beverage Director, Mission Chinese Food in New York

Tip: “I always do serious research and map out the place where I’m staying ahead of time and then go for a long run in the new city. Do not rely on the hotel to do it. It’s an amazing way to get the feel for a city, and it also makes you an expert when you go out later with your travel buddies. And never eat hotel food: Find a good local market and load up on fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread—emphasis on the word ‘fresh.’”


Remember the “Easy-to-Eat” Mantra

Who Says: Missy Robbins, chef/owner, Lillia in Brooklyn

Tip: “Eat before you get on a plane. Also bring snacks: Recently, I’ve been packing dried or fresh Granny Smith apples, drinkable yogurt, and dried chickpeas dusted with sea salt—they’re all easy to consume; you don’t have to worry about finding any utensils.”


Do a Boxing-Style Workout

Who Says: Anthony Sasso, Executive Chef, Tapas Bar at La Sirena in New York

Tip: “Invest in a jump rope! I always carry one in my bag.  I’m a big time boxing fan, and jumping rope is a big part of boxers’ training  Honestly, it’s the only sport you can realistically practice in a hotel room.”


Treat the Mini Bar Like a Museum

Who Says: Alex Guarnaschelli, chef, Butter in New York, and judge on Chopped

Tip: “I travel with seaweed sheets, protein bars, and even packs of instant oatmeal. I don’t always eat them, but just having them with me encourages healthier snacking because I know they are there.” That’s not to say Guarnaschelli doesn’t still love a mini bar: “It’s like a mini potato chip and candy playground—but I will only admire it like a museum piece, and then move on with my high-protein snacks.”


Rearrange Hotel Rooms

Who Says: Craig Koketsu, chef/partner, Quality Meats in New York

Tip: “If your hotel gym is not great, make room for an in-room workout. Clear a six- by three-foot area, put on your sneakers, and do the following sequence: 100 jumping jacks, 90 crunches, 80 squats, 70 leg lifts, 60 jumping jacks, 50 crunches, 40 squats, 30 knee extensions, 20 hands up push ups, 10 burpees. Completing this sequence is exactly what stands between me and 5 additional pounds of belly fat after excessive eating and drinking.” Koketsu is also a fan of packing Trader Joe’s Five Seed Almond Bars. “They’re a mix of flax, poppy, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds. They keep you going. Just make sure to check your teeth before you smile.”


Bring Supplements for Balance

Who Says: Galen Zamarra, chef/owner, Mas in New York

Tip: “When I travel I bring these staples: apple cider vinegar, psyllium husk, and turmeric. These keep my system in sync, especially if I’m in a place where the food and drink is what you would call ‘adventurous.’”

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