An Interview With Chef Sean Brock: Pursuing Your Passion With MG
Chef Sean Brock is an award-winning chef and restaurateur who is focused on Southern cuisine. Sean is the winner of the 2010 James Beard Award for Best Chef, Southeast. He also is a 4-time finalist for Outstanding Chef and a 3-time finalist for Rising Star Chef. His cookbooks, Heritage and South, are both on the New York Times Best Sellers list. In addition to these achievements, Sean can also be seen on season 2 of the Emmy Award-winning TV show Mind of a Chef and on season 6 of the Netflix show Chef's Table.
In 2014, Chef Brock was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG). His diagnosis forced him to prioritize his health and listen to his body, but he did not give up on his career. Instead, he reimagined what the restaurant environment could look like for himself and his team.
In 2021, he opened his flagship restaurant, Audrey, in East Nashville. Audrey is named after his maternal grandmother, who inspired his cooking. On his website AudreyNashville.com, Brock says ... "I knew that I wanted to do more than just cook food at Audrey. I wanted to create a place that allowed our team to be healthy and happy. We strongly believe that the health and happiness of our team will allow us to take better care of our guests."
We had the opportunity to talk to Chef Brock about continuing his passion for cooking while managing his MG diagnosis. Plus, he shares a few suggestions for MG-friendly meals. Read on for our interview!
What drew you to cooking?
I was lucky enough to grow up in a very rural part of Appalachia, where local food is a major passion. I grew up around amazing heirloom varietals and haven’t looked back since.
When were you diagnosed with MG?
I was diagnosed on March 17, 2016, based on my positive reaction to Mestinon and steroids.
Did you have any challenges getting a diagnosis?
My symptoms started showing up in June 2014. It took over 2 years and every test possible to obtain a diagnosis.
Any suggestions for MG-friendly meals?
Grits! I love playing around with a soft fish over some creamy grits.
One way to add flavor to soft foods?
Miso! Miso packs a nice umami punch and can be added to almost anything.
Any advice for people whose careers are impacted by MG?
Rest when your body is telling you it needs rest. Know your limits but never give up. The key is finding the balance each day. Some days I have to just sleep the whole day – never feel guilty!
How do you stay motivated with MG?
I try to stay connected with my MG community and help others as much as I can. I also have to realize what my capabilities are and what they aren’t. I don’t focus on what I can’t do; instead, I focus on gratitude for what I can do.
Do you have a favorite Chef Brock recipe? Tips of your own for managing MG and a vibrant career? Share with us in the comments, or tell us your story.
Have you ever experienced remission in your myasthenia gravis?