TO DROWSY CHEFS
Are hammocks in your kitchen the wave of the future?
By Ethel Hammer
AUTHOR Fran Lebowitz once
quipped, “Life is something that happens
when you can’t get to sleep.” The culinary
life can be a sleepless caravan, with early
morning deliveries, late-night closings,
after-hours socializing and endless
14-hour days. Some chefs are so sleep-
deprived they wind up jumping out of bed
and cooking in the middle of the night,
a sign of what professionals call SRED
(sleep-related eating disorder).
of tonsillitis after working 14-hour days for
27 days straight, chefs and sleep often
seem as incompatible as oil and water.
From Ferran Adrià, who is closing El
Bulli in Roses, Spain, in December, lifting
the burden of working 15-hour days, to
23-year-old Nathan Laity, senior sous
chef at the Tate Modern restaurant in
London, who died from an untreated case
DAYS AND NIGHTS OF WORRY
Alexander Cheswick, executive chef/
owner of May Street Market in Chicago,
serves up an enlivening mixture of
tastes to his appreciative customers. His
Moroccan chicken beds down next to a
couscous of cranberries and pumpkin
seeds. A flight of mini cupcakes—including
vanilla/lavender cream and carrot cake
with orange icing—awakens so many taste
buds and is so popular that he can’t take it
off his menu.
But while Cheswick’s flavors invigorate his
diners, he wages a nonstop uphill battle
with sleep, and admits to having dealt with
sleeplessness for several years. “Being a
chef is a stressful job, especially when you
own your own business in a challenged
economy,” he says. “Chefs must consistently
be looking to where they can change.
Responding to ongoing fluctuations in the
American palate is demanding.