Seamus Mullen Remembers His First Bad Tomato

It was in stark contrast to the lush, juicy tomatoes he knew so well growing up on an organic farm in Vermont

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Food has always been an important part of Seamus Mullen’s life. Before he became executive chef of Wanderlust Hollywood—plus the chef/owner of three others in New York and the culinary director of another in London—he spent his days on his family’s organic farm in Vermont, where picking fresh produce, tending to animals, and mucking stalls were an integral part of his childhood.

“We produced the vast majority of what we ate, so I had a really intimate relationship with food from a young age,” Seamus says.

And more than just establishing his relationship with food, farm life instilled in Seamus an appreciation for using quality, seasonal ingredients. He can pinpoint the moment when he knew this relationship with food wasn’t universal. It was the first time he had a really bad tomato.

“They were just crispy, crunchy, apple-texture tomatoes that had come out of a refrigerator,” he remembers. “I couldn’t even recognize them.” In other words, they were a far cry from the lush, sweet, juicy tomatoes he had grown up eating.

This moment was the first in paving his path toward his life calling as a chef, especially as one whose food philosophy emphasizes quality ingredients above all else.

“I believe in a simple way of cooking,” he says, “which is to cook as close to the way we cooked 100 years ago. Use natural saturated fats, use lots of vegetables depending on the season of the year.”

To see this food philosophy in action, don’t miss Seamus’s recipe for Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad from Wanderlust Hollywood.


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