If you are a true foodie, than the name Chef Seamus Mullen should not be a mystery to you.
Rising to national prominence as one of three finalists on the popular Food Network series “The Next Iron Chef”,he is the owner/operator of award-winning Tertulia restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, a columnist for “Everyday with Rachael Ray”, a regularly featured judge on the Food Network series “Chopped”, and author of the cookbook Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better.
YH had the pleasure of chatting with the culinary icon about who he would love to cook for, his involvement in the non-profit campaign Rethink RA, what aspect of being a chef is most gratifying to him, and more!
YH: You are known in the culinary world, but when did you know that you wanted to be a part of it?
SM: I was probably in my early- to mid-twenties when I finally realized that I wanted to turn my passion for food into my career. I had graduated from college and was floating around from random job to random job, until one September when my grandmother took me wine tasting in California -- she sat me down and said very bluntly, "You love cooking. You love food. You love cooking for people. This is what you should do."
YH: You are involved with the non-profit campaign Rethink RA. Tell us more about the campaign.
SM: Rethink RA is a disease education program that I am working on with Pfizer, which helps people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) rethink their approach to managing the disease. It's about raising awareness and providing information and resources to people so that they can better understand RA and communicate more effectively with their doctors and families to help manage the disease.
YH: You've competed on both "Next Iron Chef" and "Iron Chef America". What was your take-away from that experience? Anything you have attributed to your daily life?
SM: Competing on "Next Iron Chef" was definitely a life-changing experience. It was an incredible opportunity for me, and I met some amazing chefs who are still close friends of mine today. Even though TV competitions like that are nothing like the day-to-day operations of a restaurant, I learned a great deal about myself, and it pushed me to raise my own standards.
YH: To what do you attribute your “celebrity chef” status, if you do, in fact, think of yourself as one?
SM: I don't particularly like calling or thinking of myself as a "celebrity chef" per se, but being on TV has certainly helped raised my profile, for which I'm extremely grateful. I'm very fortunate to be where I am today, and I have all my guests to thank for that.
YH: What aspect of being a chef is most gratifying for you?
SM: It's pretty simple -- I like making people happy! I love bringing people together and seeing them enjoying food, sharing stories, and being in the moment with each other. And especially given all that I have learned about the relationship between food, health, and wellness, I am really proud that the food I create for others is also quite nourishing; I find nothing more gratifying than seeing my guests go nuts over food that not only tastes wonderful but also is good for them.
YH: Who’s your culinary icon?
SM: Jordi Vila. I used to work for Jordi at Alkimia in Spain. He was the one who taught me how to appreciate the balance between tradition and innovation. Another culinary icon of mine is Julia Child; she did so much to introduce America to real cooking.
YH: What inspired you to write/create your book Hero Food?
SM: I created Hero Food because I wanted to not only share my personal experiences with food and wellness but to also inspire others to eat more healthfully, and to show people that delicious food can actually be good for you.
YH: And last but not least, if you could have any chef in the world cook for you, who would it be, and, in turn, if you could cook your best meal for anyone in the world, who would it be?
SM: It would be an incredible honor to have Olivier Roellinger cook for me! He is an incredible chef from Brittany who decided to give back his 3 Michelin stars and cook for the pure joy of cooking. He may not be the most famous chef in the world but he's had a tremendous, tremendous influence over a whole generation of cooks.
If I could cook for anyone in the world, it would be our First Lady, Michelle Obama. I have an enormous amount of respect and gratitude for all that she has done to bring attention to the importance of nourishing the next generation of Americans.