Jordan Brown, founder and CEO of one of New York’s healthiest hot-spots, Hu Kitchen, may be the least likely food entrepreneur ever. His refrigerator, it turns out, is empty. Not I’ve-got-a-few-eggs, a-carton-of-milk, and some-old-condiments empty. Really, truly, empty.
“I never really cooked,” admits the former real estate developer. “That’s the irony—that I got into the food business, without any culinary background whatsoever.”
Brown’s ascent to the top of the healthy-eats scene started when he read The Ultra Mind Solution by functional medicine guru Mark Hyman, M.D., which led him to try cutting out gluten…which made him feel amazing. He began eating healthier and healthier, but that was hard as a take-out junkie. “It was just about the things I wanted to eliminate from my diet, like oils and grains,” he says. “It was tough to order from places and satisfy that.” He teamed up with his sister, and voila! Hu Kitchen—the expansive restaurant-slash-market—was born.
We caught up with the improbable impresario about what he does eat, in between workouts at studios like Brick New York, CityRow, and Barry’s Bootcamp.
When you told me your fridge was empty, I assumed you meant sparsely stocked. Does it really always look like this? Every now and then, I’ll have an ice coffee or dinner from the night before from Hu in there, but usually it’s just nothing.
But what if you want a midnight snack? Or if you’re home for the day? You literally never need to reach for something to eat? The beauty of where I live is that it’s less than a block away from Hu, and I know the food there, and I trust it. Before Hu, I would order from different places and I never felt great, mostly because of the oils they use and whatnot. I know Hu cooks with coconut oil, which I like. I got pretty good at eliminating the things I didn’t want in my diet before Hu, but now I don’t even have to think about it.
So what are some of your go-to meals? I’m kind of a creature of habit. I get obsessed with one thing and I’ll have it for all three of my meals, which is weird. I try to eat a ton of vegetables, so for breakfast I’ll have the “raw goodness,” part of our bowl station, with a little bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Then I’ll have either the almond-crusted chicken tenders or the grass-fed beef—for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But I’d say I eat everything on the menu at least once a week.
Okay, most people like to talk about what they eat, but you emphasize what you’ve eliminated. Why’s that? Unfortunately, because of the way the food industry works, it’s become more important to focus on what’s not in there. You hear about all of these functional medicine doctors focusing on elimination diets—you isolate a variable, pull it out, get rid of it, and that’s how you start feeling better. You start realizing, “Okay, this makes me feel not great. This makes me not thrive the way I really should thrive.” —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, visit www.hukitchen.com