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Seamus Mullen on Self-Compassion and Achieving Balance Within the Body

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About this episode

Seamus Mullen, a renowned chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author known for his expertise in Spanish cuisine, discusses his journey from being a chef to becoming a health and wellness expert. 

After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and experiencing health issues, Seamus embarked on a mission to educate others about the impact of proper nutrition on overall health and autoimmune diseases like RA. Seamus reflects on the importance of shifting mindsets and transitioning from perceiving oneself as a sick person to embracing self-compassion and recognizing struggles as opportunities for growth. 

Overall, the episode delves into the concept of equilibrium and how achieving balance within the body extends beyond the realm of food. It explores a wide range of topics, including stress management, mental health, fasting, the strengths and weaknesses of Western medicine, and the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that bring happiness to chefs.

Where to find Seamus Mullen: 

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(1:51) How Josh and Seamus first met

(4:45) Paella and Spanish cuisine

(8:20) Seamus’ background

(13:19) Living with rheumatoid arthritis 

(15:44) Compassion and finding equilibrium in your body

(21:24) Are chefs spokespeople for how we eat?

(26:56) Fasting and gratitude 

(29:34) Cortisol shouldn’t be vilified 

(31:49) Why do we eat?

(33:57) Taking a holistic approach to diet and wellness

(36:37) Why nutrition is personal


Josh Sharkey [00:00:00]: 

Welcome to The meez Podcast. I'm your host, Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, the culinary operating system for food professionals. On the show, I'll be interviewing world-class entrepreneurs in the food space that are shifting the paradigm of how we innovate and operate in our industry. Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy the show. 


My guest today is the very talented chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and now health and wellness expert, Chef Shamus Mullen. He's also really well known for his deep expertise and knowledge of Spanish cuisine, having opened several restaurant concepts, including Boqueria, Tertulia , which is one of my favorites, and El Colmado.


But after struggling with a number of health issues and being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, he began this new quest to help others learn how eating the right foods can have a profound effect on the ability to combat a myriad of health issues, obviously, including autoimmune diseases like RA.


Our conversation went pretty deep and wide. We talked about a number of issues like managing stress, managing mental health, fasting, what western medicine gets right and wrong, and why we as chefs decide we want to cook, the intrinsic and extrinsic things that make us happy, and so much more. It was really enjoyable and Shamus and I go back almost 20 years having worked together for Floyd Cardoz in the early two thousands, so it was just a good chance to catch up. And I ended up breaking the episode into two parts because there's just so much juice here that I didn't want to cut down any of it. So this is part one and I hope you enjoy it.


Welcome aboard. Welcome to the podcast 

Seamus Mullen [00:01:56]:

Josh Sharkey, what's up? 

Josh Sharkey [00:01:57]:

Good seeing you man. I don't know the last time I saw you in person, by the way. 

Seamus Mullen [00:02:00]:

I do. It was pouring rain. It was on Broadway and 18th, probably about five years ago. And I bumped into you. You were, you were going north and I was going south.

Josh Sharkey [00:02:09]:

Just walking? 

Seamus Mullen [00:02:10]:

You were walking and I was walking and I had an umbrella. And you didn't, we stood under my umbrella and caught up for hours. 

Josh Sharkey [00:02:13]:

Oh yeah, that's right. And I think the time before that I was running on the West Side Highway. And you were biking the other way. 

Seamus Mullen [00:02:16]:

Exactly. Yeah. We keep always going in opposite directions.

Josh Sharkey [00:02:23]:

Yeah, I know. Well, it's funny, I also was thinking about when we were planning to do this, the show, like when we met, which was, I believe I was at Tabla and you were at 11 Madison Park. 

Seamus Mullen [00:02:33]:

No, I was at Tabla too. 

Josh Sharkey [00:02:35]:

You were at Tabla too. You were, you were a server, right? 

Seamus Mullen [00:02:35]:

I was a server first, and then I worked in the kitchen.I think I worked in the kitchen after you left. 

Josh Sharkey [00:02:40]: 

Oh, well, and I was racking my brain. You opened a spot after that in the lower East side. 

Seamus Mullen [00:02:44]: 

Yeah. Crudo. Do you remember that place?

Josh Sharkey [00:02:44]: 

Crudo. I was trying to find the name of this place. I couldn't find it anywhere. I was searching and I was like, what is that name of that spot that he opened? Cause it was awesome. Yeah, it was a little short-lived I think.


For a year in a lot of ways. I think it was kind of ahead of its time, but I had this idea. Every restaurant in New York at the time was starting to do raw fish dishes as an appetizer. And anywhere I went and to this day, 20 some odd years later, I still always gravitate to having a raw fish dish because, you know, we love raw fish.


It's fish in its most elemental form. And I thought, what if you just create a restaurant that was the best raw fish dishes? So it was ceviches, tartares, and crudos. And I also did venison, carpaccio, like some other stuff that was not necessarily fish, but I didn't have any heat in the kitchen. It was a tiny little bar.

Josh Sharkey [00:03:33]: 

Oh, it was all induction, right? 

Seamus Mullen [00:03:35]: 

Yeah, and I had an induction. And I have a hot pot of some sort. And then everything else was cold and I had a prep kitchen that I could have access to during the day, so I would make different kinds of chips and things to serve with the ceviches. But yeah, it was fun.


It was a really fun spot. I mean, I was a one man band. It was just me doing all of it. So it got pretty exhausting. And then the winter came and it was really, at the time, really tough to convince people that they had to eat raw fish. 

Josh Sharkey [00:04:05]: 

Now you can't get and find any without it. But you bounced back and forth a bit, which from like in the kitchen to doing a bit of front of house, then back in the kitchen. Which by the way, I dunno if you remember. I worked for your restaurant. 

Seamus Mullen [00:04:15]: 

You worked for me. Yeah, I know. I remember when I was, it was like 2007 maybe. 

Josh Sharkey [00:04:17]: 

Yeah. When I was trying to open Bark and I was serving at your restaurant.

Seamus Mullen [00:04:19]:

I remember because you wanted to learn more about front of house operations since you're getting ready to open Bark, you came to work for me and I remember. As always happens when you're running a kitchen, you're like in the shits and you, you're down. And I was like, well, maybe Josh will just, you know, may I get Sharkey to come in, pick up a shift. You're like, oh man, I'm not doing that.

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