The Real-Life Diet of Shake Shacks Executive Chef, Who Taste-Tests Burgers Between Marathons – GQ

Posted: March 1, 2020 at 4:44 am


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John Karangis, the executive chef of Shake Shack, says he usually wakes up at 3:30 a.m. This is by choice. The 48-year-old isnt rising and grinding at an unseemly hour to cook, concoct, and taste-test chicken, burgers, hot dogs, fries, and milkshakesthose are tasks he saves for later in the day. The crack-of-dawn start-time is because he cant stop himself from competing in marathons and triathlonsboth of which require a fair amount of early-morning training.

Karangis began cooking at an early age, including (illegally) at a restaurant at 13. He went to culinary school and came into the orbit of Danny Meyer, the founder of Shake Shack, who helped him launch a career in fine dining. So when Meyer and company came calling again, Karangis jumped at the chance to team back up. And in October 2018, he transitioned to his decidedly less high-end but equally tasty current job.

Karangiss journey as an athlete is a little more recent: it started 16 years ago, he says, as a bucket list one-off marathon turned into a lifelong hobby. Then he added training for Ironman triathlons to his regimen in 2014. Both forms of exercise are a welcomed respite from the sometimes not-so-healthy rigors of Karangiss day job, which does indeed feature the ingestion of a whole bunch of burgers.

In an interview with GQ, Karangis explains how he and his colleagues in the Shake Shack Innovation Kitchen try to maintain a healthy diet, and he explains why he really, truly craves Shake Shack every year after running the New York City Marathon.

GQ: Can you walk me through a typical day for an executive chef of a fast-casual restaurant?

John Karangis: I wake up at 3:30 a.m., and Ill have maybe a banana, some cashew butter, a cup of coffee, and Ill hit the road. I train one or two disciplinesswimming, cycling, or running. I usually start my exercise at 4:45 and do that as long as my schedule dictates for the day. Ill shower at home or the gym, grab a small recovery breakfast, and go to work. Im usually at work by 8, and leave sometime around 5 or 6. I try to be in bed by 10 p.m.

How often are you eating Shake Shack for lunch?

Part of our role in the Innovation Kitchen is to develop new recipes for Shake Shacks all over the world. Were constantly cooking and having tastings. Throughout the day, as a chef, youre cooking and tasting enough to get a sense of what works, what doesnt, while also being mindful of what youre eating. I try to integrate a salad lunch into the mix, especially if Ive got a big tasting with a burger or shake that day. I want to make sure Ive also got some grains, quinoa, greens, and a little dressing. But Im active during the work day and it kind of goes by so quickly that my lunches can vary. There are definitely days where my lunch is bits and pieces of whatever Im eating in the Shack. When I get home, my wife is a great cook, and whatever shes making, Ill eat. Then I try to prep my breakfast for the next morning to make my morning a little lighter.

Im not super regimented, but I try to be mindful of what Im eating. Theres a team of three of us, so well divide those tasting tasks up to make sure we each live a balanced lifestyle and were not taking in a ton of calories. My colleagues and I look out for each other, to be honest. Well say, okay, theres a big tasting tomorrow, heres what we need to do. But its also important to sometimes put ourselves in the shoes of a guest and experience something with the intent that we want them to experience it.

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The Real-Life Diet of Shake Shacks Executive Chef, Who Taste-Tests Burgers Between Marathons - GQ

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March 1st, 2020 at 4:44 am