Tips for better health while you travel
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. Coincidentally or not, as travelling chefs and bartenders become ever more commonplace, they are increasingly health conscious.
So what does this mean for mere civilians and business travellers? Get the best food and drinks you can in the city that you’re visiting, these pros say. But when you feel guilty about any over-indulgences, see the tips below.
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
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 practise 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 6x3ft 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.”