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The DX Diabetes Dish: Sam Talbot

The Top Chef fan favorite on cooking with T1

Sam Talbot is a chef, author, philanthropist and television personality based in Brooklyn, N.Y.  Diagnosed at a young age with type 1 diabetes, Sam lives every hour with a deep understanding of the impact of food on life and life on food. This unique perspective has been the driving force behind his projects and has put him at the forefront of the Sustainable Living movement, seeking to break down walls between the way we eat and the way we live. Talbot is the founding executive chef of The Surf Lodge in Montauk, N.Y., and during his time there it became a nationally acclaimed culinary destination. He went on to work with Morgans Hotel Group, opening Imperial No. Nine, a chic sustainable seafood restaurant at the Mondrian SoHo, all while championing his philanthropic causes and publishing his first book, The Sweet Life: Diabetes without Boundaries. He was a semifinalist on season two of Bravo’s Top Chef, where he was voted “fan favorite” and subsequently named one of People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” in 2012. In 2015, Sam launched several exciting ventures that are close to his heart. From a new restaurant in Camden, Maine (Pig + Poet), to his new foundation BEYOND TYPE 1, a nonprofit organization focusing on inspiring the diabetes community, Sam looks forward to expanding his portfolio and exploring new territory while remaining true to his culinary roots.

Chef Sam Talbot
Chef Sam Talbot

What is your state of mind today?

Focused.

Which words would you use to describe who you are?

Driven, determined, passionate, sensitive.

How does diabetes change – or not change – who you are?

It helps me realize that we are not invincible and that we have only one opportunity to live our very best life – diabetes keeps that in check for me.

Who inspires you?

My peers, my mother and those who give back.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

Their ability to deal with me! [Laughs.]

What would you pack for your favorite vacation?

Not a whole lot! A surfboard and my insulin.   

What’s in your refrigerator right now? 

Almond milk, almond butter, eggs and lots of hot sauce.

What is your favorite way to relieve stress?

Sex.

What is your idea of happiness?

Being in the moment, having gratitude for the small things.

What’s your favorite diabetes management tip?

Starting the day with a really vibrant green juice helps keep my blood sugar in check for the day and sets the tone.

People living with diabetes may sometimes blame themselves. What words of encouragement would you give them so they can let go of the blame?

I would say that it is not about something they did wrong or something to feel ashamed of – think of it perhaps as a bigger purpose to change the way you live and be more aware of your body, to generally live in a healthier way. Support and great role models are out there, constantly kicking ass and disrupting the disease like a badass; it’s an opportunity to inspire and help others.

Everyone gets stuck in a rut now and then. What do you do to remotivate yourself?

Yoga.

What words do you try to live by?

Authenticity. Living in the moment.

What is your greatest fear? 

The ocean.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Traveling.

What does diabetes advocacy mean to you? What goals do you have for upcoming diabetes projects and initiatives?  

Beyond Type 1 is a nonprofit organization I am starting with three partners, including Nick Jonas. Our goal is to highlight the brilliance of those fighting this disease every day while always working toward ensuring a cure is on its way. I also work with Barnabas [Health] on a “Life is Better Healthy” video cooking series, just supporting the amazing programs they have there. I wear a pump that allows me to be active and helps to manage my blood sugar levels. I try to do as much as I can for diabetes advocacy, and being able to be a voice in the community is rewarding and very important to me.

Who are your heroes in real life?

There are a few of my nearest and dearest that are my everything.

What are you looking forward to right now?

A wonderful year of educating, advocating and forging a path to a cure with Beyond Type 1 crew.

What is your favorite diabetes-friendlier dish cook for a dinner party?

I love going to the farmers’ market and being inspired by an array of fresh produce and coming home and using simple ingredients like olive oil, lemon and sea salt to help the ingredients stand on their own. I wish I could share a specific recipe, but I tend to cook this way – I like to keep it simple, fresh and spontaneous.

What advice do you have for cooking delicious diabetes-friendlier food?

It’s really about getting to know your body and what works for you. It’s hard to go wrong with fresh ingredients prepared simply! Staying away from processed and prepackaged foods is always a good rule, make things from scratch and know what you put into your body.

All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the interviewee and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

© 2015 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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