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Seamus Mullen on the Importance of Finding Joy in Cooking

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About this episode

From the intrinsic motivations that drive chefs and individuals, to the concept of outsourcing happiness, and the importance of finding joy in cooking, part two of our conversation with Chef Seamus Mullen dives deep into personal fulfillment in the culinary industry. Listen to part 1 of our conversation here.

During the episode, Josh and Seamus reflect on the unique role of cooking in their lives and its ability to provide a sense of love, connection, and self-expression. The two share personal stories and insights into their motivations as chefs, touching on the intricate relationship between cooking, ego, and external validation.

The conversation also takes an intriguing turn into the world of keto, autophagy, and the connection between stress and cellular fortification. Plus, ponder the significance of suffering, connecting to nature, and the search for meaning in human existence.

Tune in to explore the profound relationship between cooking and our relationship with food, ourselves, and the world around us.

Where to find Seamus Mullen: 

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(1:19) Building consistent habits

(1:59) The Ketogenic diet

(4:49) Can keto help treat cancer?

(7:10) What is autophagy?

(10:04) Why stress is important

(12:55) The pain and pleasure spectrum

(13:48) Will AI increase our happiness?

(16:34) Reconnecting with nature

(19:56) Why Seamus cooks

(22:40) Cooking and observation

(24:06) The Intrinsic vs Extrinsic part of cooking

(25:16) Finding joy in cooking

(28:29) Cooking for your dish

(30:10) Standardization and consistency



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. 


This is part two of my chat with Chef Seamus Mullen. We had a blast and we went way over time, so I ended up splitting it into two episodes. And in this episode, we dig into why Chef Seamus cooks, why he decided to do this, why he keeps doing it, why we all keep doing it.


He talks a lot about outsourcing happiness and why that's not so great and why we need to find intrinsic reasons to do what we do, which I love. We both get vulnerable, but overall we just have a good time. If you didn't check out part one, I recommend doing that first. But either way, please enjoy.


For me the most important thing for anybody that's trying to think about their health or a diet especially is, you need to do what, what you can do consistently every day. By the way, that's why I love intermittent fasting, even though I've decided to go away from it. Because I want to gain more weight and it's hard to do it, but it's easy to keep up with every day.


And anything that you're going to do, what matters most is that you can actually do it every day. And that's why I did keto for like six, eight months back in the day. And it was, it was really fucking hard. And if I do a five day fast, I'll always. Just go into a keto diet for five to seven days before the fast to try to spike the ability to get into ketosis quicker. But otherwise, it's really hard. I mean, although I will say I saw a recipe that you had for pancakes that was keto. They were really, really good. Well, how do you feel about keto?

Seamus Mullen [00:01:59]: 

I think the ketogenic diet is really, first of all, it’s terrible that it’s called ketogenic.You know, I think it's our human birthright to have metabolic flexibility. And if you think of it from an evolutionary standpoint, our ancestors, and in the same way, the flip side of that, which I also want to talk about is like, I was just at Michigan University speaking to the medical school on a conference of pain management and so I was a keynote speaker on nutrition as the role nutrition plays in pain management.


So I was talking to 400 plus physicians and one of the first things I asked them when we had lunch first. And I did the lunch. So it was a Seamus lunch. It was very different from what they normally have in these sorts of environments. They loved it, but there was no refined carbohydrate, there's no refined sugar, et cetera.


And I asked, I was like, can I get a show of hands? How many people here would consider themselves to have a sweet tooth or be a sugar addict? I would say half of the group sheepishly said, yeah, yeah. I'm like, you know, they're all drinking their soda or whatever. These are doctors, right? And I was like, okay.


You guys keep your hands up now everyone else who didn't raise their hand, put your hand up as well. And so now I had, you know, 450 people with their hands up and I said, my belief is that we are all sugar addicts. And it's genetically programmed into us to be sugar addicts because our ancestors intuitively understood that when they found a blueberry bush that was ripe with blueberries, had tons of blueberries, and all you have to do is look in nature.


When you see a bear that finds a blueberry bush, they would consume as much of it as they could. They knew that in spiking their blood sugar, anything that they didn't consume was going to be converted into white fat. It was gonna make them fat. Bears know this. Bears do this all the time. And the inverse of that carbohydrate indulgence and the production of fat is adding metabolic flexibility to be able to later tap into that through ketosis and access that fat and use it as usable calories, usable fuel in the form of keto, synthesizing the liver.


So I think that the ketogenic diet, I think it's like our evolutionary birthright. It's how we evolve to endure long periods of time without food. In order to do that, you actually have to have enough body fat to be able to access that body fat and you and synthesize ketones. If you're malnourished and you're 3% body fat and you go into ketosis, you're gonna start consuming pretty quickly.


Through gluconeogenesis, all your muscle tissue, you just simply don't have fat to access. But it's a really interesting tool that obviously has been studied and used for the past hundred years. 20 years for treating epilepsy. I think it's an incredible tool for treating cancer that very few people are talking about.


We have really ineffective ways of treating cancer, and we look at cancer as these like radical cells that are broken down and that replicate and metastasize and create an environment of cancer that slowly kills the body. Cancer is, I would argue, a metabolic disease. That we all have cancer cells, we all have broken cells, and the question is whether or not our body is able to handle that, assimilate those cells. If we create an environment in which those cells replicate, and cancer cells require a hundred thousand times more glucose than healthy cells.


So if we're eating a diet that is really high in glucose or fine carbohydrate, we're gonna be feeding cancer cells. Now, if you're on a ketogenic diet or you're fasting, you're either getting zero glucose or you're getting really, really low, low levels of glucose, which means that you're starving cancer cells.


I think we'll probably see more and more progressive oncologists using the ketogenic diet as a protocol for treating cancer and fasting as well. And fasting in the ketogenic diet. So I think you have three things. You have metabolic flexibility, which is the ability to go from being in mild to deep ketosis and then also swinging back to being a carbohydrate burner. 

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