Michael Chernow is a restaurateur, chef, entrepreneur, tv personality, and athlete. He is the co-founder of The Meatball Shop and Seamore’s restaurants.
Hey Michael, let's get right into it. What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced, personal or professional, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I've had to face was getting sober at 23. Growing up in Manhattan offers incredible opportunities, teaches self awareness, street smarts, and it’s one of the most diverse communities in the world. But it also offers exposure to some things that are bad news, and I took that bait at a young age. I've lost friends over the years to overdose, hard living, suicide, and I am super grateful to have made it to the other side. I was beaten up bad, I overdosed, and knew the end was near. However, I also knew in my heart that I had more to offer. Luckily I found a couple of guys that took me under their wing, helped me get my shit together, and helped me push open the door. I found a support system and was able to change the way I made decisions on a daily basis. And most importantly I invested heavily in my personal wellness through fitness, nutrition and spirituality.
What has been your most valuable investment in recent memory?
Wow, there are so many. I start every day of my life with a spiritual practice, then fitness, then nutrition. I prioritize this before everything else in life: family, business etc. That said, I also wake up at 5 am to get it done and not sacrifice family for my personal time. I know that I am a better person, father, husband, son, business owner when I take care of myself first. This is a daily investment of time and energy, and this is one stock I'm taking long.
I also have to put a plug in for buying a home in upstate NY. We bought our home about 7 years ago and it was definitely a luxury purchase at the time, but boy oh boy are we happy. We've been living up here since March when the shit hit the fan with COVID in New York City.
What was the most uncomfortable experience of your life that you would not take back or change?
Overdosing right before I got sober. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I am grateful to be alive. Had that not have happened, chances are I would have never taken the necessary steps to find any little window of hope. Almost dying was what it took for me to discover just how beautiful life can be.
What is the best advice you ever received?
My best piece of advice was not from one person, but rather a group of people. The advice was based on my addiction, but it has bled into every aspect of my life and I use it on a daily basis: ASK FOR HELP. People are too concerned about what others will think, their pride and egos get in the way, and they end up drowning. I ask for help as much as I can. Many of the greatest leaders are also the greatest delegators, if you want to see a group of people perform, empower them to make decisions.
What kind of role does fitness play in your life?
Aside from being with my family, it’s definitely the best part of my day. I train 6 days a week, I can't wait to fall asleep at night because of how excited I am to train in the morning. Every day I walk in with the intention to be better than yesterday, and I walk out feeling like I've won every day. The little wins on a consistent, daily basis help in every area of my life. I have run marathons, competed in Muay Thai kick boxing, bodybuilding competitions, but know I have more mountains to climb, literally and figuratively. I honestly don't know what I would do without fitness, it’s my mental, physical, and spiritual medicine.