Pastry chef Jacques Torres on weight loss, “Nailed! “And Chocolate
This interview is part of â€œNetflix Cooking School,â€ Delish’s new partnership with Netflix, where we bring readers exclusive content related to the premieres of some of their most popular new (and old) cooking shows.
Jacques Torres, 62, is a chocolatier, charming French pastry chef and chief judge of Netflix’s Nailed It! Five years ago, he decided to change his lifestyle and lose weight while still running his chocolate business in New York … and keeping his nickname Mr. Chocolate. He told us how he did it.
My father was a carpenter, my brother was a cook, so I [always] knew i would [grow up and] be a craftsman. But why? When I spoke to my brother and told him “I want to learn cooking”, he told me that there was a not very good restaurant in Bandol. [France, where I grew up] where I was able to do an apprenticeship, but also that there was also a pastry shop. I was interested! I approached the owner of the pastry shop and asked him if he would allow me to work there; I was 16 years old. I immediately fell in love with pastry. I remember walking into the store smelling of butter and the caramelization of sugar and thinking: I want to do this for the rest of my life. I graduated and became what I am today.
During this time, I was still active! I ran the New York Marathon, I played rugby. I did all of these things until I was about 40 years old. And then my knees started to fail. I didn’t have good cartilage and couldn’t run. I tried going to the gym but it wasn’t the same and started to gain weight.
Five years ago, when I went for my checkup, the doctor, [who] was a friend of mine, looked at me and said, â€œLook, you have a very young child. If you want to see your child turn 20, you have to change your lifestyle. [It was then that] I realized that I wanted to be there for my child. I asked him, â€œWhat should I do? He said I had to see a nutritionist.
Here’s what I learned: You need to review the food you have. The trick is knowing how many and in what order. The nutritionist told me to eat protein first. Then you eat vegetables. And you leave the carbs alone. It was very hard. For a year, I didn’t touch the carbs. I’d eat some chocolate, but that was it.
I really believe that it is possible to be a chocolatier or a pastry chef while having a relatively healthy lifestyle. â€œEverything in moderationâ€ I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot. Sometimes I’ll have a croissant. But I won’t have a croissant every day. It’s the same with chocolate. With chocolate, I’m not going to indulge myself. I taste what I do. I don’t think I could be a chocolatier or a pastry chef without tasting things! But to taste does not mean to eat a lot. Chocolate can be healthy if you eat it in moderation! I have never stopped eating chocolate. Listen, it’s impossible to work in a chocolate factory and not eat chocolate.
I have a son who is almost five years old and my daughter is two years and four months old. Family has become the center of my life now. My wife and my children are my goal. And of course I [want to] make my business more successful. I will continue to be very serious about what I do and how I do it, [but] raising these little ones is very important to me and I hope [Iâ€™ll be] there for them for many years. This is why I became healthier. So we can be together and create memories.
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