A few weeks ago, we met Chef Seamus Mullen at the Olive Oils of Spain where he kicked off the Olive Oil World Tour. Known for Spanish cooking and his love of olive oil, we talked with this restaurateur of Whirlybird + Greens and El Colmado and author of Real Food Heals. He shared why olive oil is so important to him, being a fitness enthusiast and his commitment to giving back via Chefs Cycle to ensure that he fights child hunger. ATHLEISURE MAG: Tell us about how you got into cooking and decided this was a field that you wanted to work in. CHEF SEAMUS MULLEN: Growing up on a farm I was always around really good ingredients, in fact both of my grandmothers were excellent cooks and I started cooking at a really young age with them. When I got into high school and needed a Summer job to earn money, I started working in a pizzeria and that was really the beginning of being around food for me professionally. After college, I threw myself into professional cooking and I’ve been doing it ever since. AM: We love olive oil - tell us about how you embraced it from a cooking perspective? CSM: Olive oil was something that we always had in the house, growing up, but we only used it for vinaigrettes. When I was 17 I went to Spain for a year abroad and lived with a Spanish family that was totally food-obsessed. Being in the kitchen with my host mother really turned me on to how fundamentally important olive oil is to Spanish cuisine and I totally fell in love. AM: How did you connect with Olive Oils of Spain? CSM: I’ve spent a fair amount of my career in Spain and I think it would be fair to say that Olive oil is really the foundation of Spanish cuisine. My early love for the olive oils of Spain has stayed with me throughout my career and I really can’t imagine cooking without it.
AM: What are the benefits of utilizing olive oil for health reasons? CSM: There are so many health benefits of cooking with olive oil, from its anti-oxidant properties, to its naturally anti-inflammatory qualities, it’s a fundamental ingredient in the healthy kitchen. As an oil that is high in monounsaturated fat, olive oil helps the body produce healthy cholesterol. And most importantly, it’s incredibly delicious! AM: Tell us about your restaurant in NYC and what are some of your favorite dishes that are perfect for the summer. CSM: Summer in NYC is all about the produce. We get some remarkable fruits and vegetables this time of year. Lately I’ve really been into a very simple salad of sliced peaches with herbs, fresh ricotta cheese, a sprinkle of sea salt and a healthy dose of extra virgin olive oil from Spain. AM: We have done various interviews with Chefs Cycle and know that you participated in this - how important is it for you to be involved in philanthropic/wellness events of this nature? CSM: I think it’s really important to give back. As a chef, our job is to feed people and with 1 in 3 kids facing food insecurity in the US I feel compelled to work to fix what is a solvable problem. It also has the added benefit of getting chefs out and moving and healthier! AM: What is it about cycling that you enjoy and what other workouts do you enjoy doing in addition to this? CSM: Cycling has been a part of my life for a really long time and there’s so much I love about it. First and foremost, riding a bike is fun! It’s also a great way to get around, in fact I go pretty much every where in the city by bicycle. If I’m riding my mountain bike, it’s my meditation, I’m focused just on the moment, taking the woods, the trees, the outdoors. On the road bike it tends to be a