ABBY HOCKING

Plus, Hugh Acheson shares how he finds inspiration when he's traveling. 

Elisabeth Sherman
June 15, 2018

At the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, panelists Hugh Acheson, Traci Des Jardins, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Will Guidara sat down with F&W EIC Hunter Lewis to discuss Hamilton’s controversial partnership with Ken Friedman, the issue of staff retention, growing a business, and self-care strategies. 

Guidara, who is the co-owner of Eleven Madison Park, revealed that his trick to winding down after stressful, seemingly endless work days is just as low-key as our rituals: He orders takeout and watches Netflix.

“How I fill my gas tank, is I eat Chinese food and binge television shows,” he admitted. “Right now I love the show Billions, but I’m also going way back. I’d never seen Dexter, so I’m consuming a lot of Dexter right now. My wife doesn’t like scary television though, so we aren’t allowed to watch it at night.” ("It's just murder!" he added, getting a big laugh from the audience.)

Hugh Acheson also chimed in with a simple—and extremely relatable—answer: Sleep.

He also gets energy and inspiration from travel. He recently took a trip to France with his family, where he investigated dining habits and tried to think about how he would “translate it through [my] own prism” at his restaurants.

Acheson says that he keeps “weird notebooks” full of observations about his travels.

“I try to figure out, in a pedestrian way, what’s interesting around me,” he said. “I go to a lot of museums, and I go to a lot of art galleries ... Doodles. I like sleeping.”

Earlier in the panel, Acheson spoke to the issue of mentorship, yet another key component to a healthy (and sustainable) kitchen culture.

“Endow [staff] with a sense of purpose, even if it's moving cheeses,” he said. “I want that person to be learning everything about that. We have to endow our places of work with a sense of curiosity. If people don’t learn, they don’t want to stick around.”

Mental health among restaurant industry workers has become an increasingly recognized issue. Recently, eleven chefs, including Rick Bayless and Dirt Candy's Amanda Cohen, shared their own self-care strategies with Kat Kinsman, which include yoga, acupuncture, and trying to not eat ice cream after midnight.