What is Chef Fit Project?
Chef Fit is an online coaching service and movement designed to show chefs how to pull themselves out of the rut and get their lives back on track through fitness, lifestyle and mindset.
What inspired you to start the project?
My older brother Keelan is the proud owner and head chef of Variety Jones in Dublin.
He’s worked at the top level for years. His health suffered massively as a result of 70-80 hour weeks for 10+ years: he was overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol daily, not exercising and generally doing nothing outside of cooking. He asked for my help 3 years ago and I began putting together a plan for him in terms of exercise and nutrition.
The results were incredible; he lost over 10kg. Keelan became fitter than he had ever been, started waking up 4 hours earlier than usual and even took up hobbies like piano and Jiu-Jitsu as a result of his new-found energy and motivation. This gave him a completely new mindset and in turn gave him a new outlook on life. I believe this helped him start pursuing the dream of opening his own restaurant, which he now has. Seeing my brother’s life change in front of me, by me, was my lightbulb moment.
I began to wonder about the other chefs out there with the same ability and passion in the kitchen as Keelan, but were lacking the tools that make the man: simple and essential tools such as the exercise, nutrition and mindset to get them to that level they dream of.
How many chefs need the tools that I provide? How many are stuck in this rut? There’s far too many chefs suffering without anyone to offer practical help.
I began personal training my old friends who were chefs and saw the same result: a complete transformation of their bodies and minds.
I realised that my experience in the service industry, combined with my passion and knowledge of exercise, nutrition and mindset had created a movement right in front of me.
What’s your background?
I’m a bit of an anomaly to be honest. As a family, our love of food started from a young age; we were always surrounded by good food thanks to my father and the passion for food that he had.
My working life however started in a bar at 13 years old pulling pints. I then started working for one of my brothers in catering: private events, catering to schools etc.
At 17, I started running my own part of the business by catering lunches to high end offices in Dublin.
Naturally I found my way into restaurants after that, but I ended up in the bar instead of the kitchen. I went to bar tending college at 20 to learn mixology, and I worked for a few years for a big cocktail events company. I also spent some time running Beast Street Food with my brother Aaron. Over those years I struggled with substances and bad lifestyle habits. I suffered with bouts of depression and was always battling with anxiety of some form.
At the same time, I chased a career as a professional rugby player which was unfortunately cut short by back injuries. I retired at 20 and became a competitive powerlifter soon after, and rose through the ranks to get ranked in the top 7 @100kg in Ireland, and my passion for fitness soon took over. At 22 I became a qualified PT, qualifying in as many ways as I could: strength & conditioning, CrossFit and life coaching. Whilst coaching and teaching the personal training in Dublin City, I decided to become my own business, personal training in a gym in Dublin City. It was then that I started coaching chefs three times a week, who in turn sparked the Chef Fit movement, and now here we are!
Sum up your current work life in one sentence.
‘The Road Less Travelled’
What’s next for Chef Fit?
Our goal is to reach 500 chefs in the coaching community, and spread the message of pulling yourself out of the rut and getting your life back on track.
What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting a new fitness regime?
Keep it stupid simple and always get back on the wagon if you fall off.
Are there any openings you are looking forward to?
We’re currently looking at working with large catering companies in regards to wellness programs for their kitchen staff.
Where did you last have a great meal?
VARIETY JONES DUBLIN. If you haven’t heard of it, then you will! Vanda has one of the best organic wine menus around and my brother’s food speaks for itself.