Despite leaving Nourish Group earlier this year for a slower pace of life, Simon Gault seems busier than ever. The talented chef has several projects on the go, from helping Selak’s ahead of New Zealand Roast Day, to creating a top secret new restaurant. He’s even working on an exclusive event that will see him pitted against the computer from Jeopardy! He’s currently working at The Food Show in Auckland, dividing his time between delicious cooking demonstrations and his Sous Chef stall.
And while he’s excited by all the interesting projects in his jam-packed schedule, he’s disappointed not to be working on the one so close to his heart. The 50-year-old was hoping to champion a TV series on diabetes this year, however he was recently denied funding from NZ On Air.
It’s a real blow, because as a Type 2 Diabetic, it’s something he’s incredibly passionate about. “One in three [New Zealanders] will end up with onset diabetes and it can be prevented,” he says. “All the hospital beds it’s taking up is just incredible. It’s costing our country a lot of money.”
After his diagnosis, Simon sought out expert help to manage his condition and is now living medication-free. He would love to share what he learned with Kiwis around the country. He is still hoping to get help to put together a TV show to work with people to address their diabetes with the help of a host of experts, from doctors to meditation specialists.
He says managing the condition is about more than diet, there’s a real mind-body connection to getting well. One of the biggest challenges for diabetics is saying no to sugar. “When you want to eat that chocolate, how do you push it away and not eat it?” he asks. “The problem with most diets is that they’re not sustainable. I’d be teaching people [on the show] how to shop, how to walk around the supermarket, how to be able to cook food that’s sustainable for their health condition.”
It’s frustrating for the chef, as there’s certainly a market for his knowledge. After his cooking demonstration at The Food Show, he is inundated with questions from the audience about managing their own diabetes.
So what foods does the busy chef enjoy to keep himself healthy?
“This morning I had a superfood smoothie which is not green at all, it’s nut based. Normally I would have something green for lunch and then a high salad content for dinner with protein. But it varies every day.
“The other night my wife had a piece of steak and I didn’t. It’s frustrating sometimes, but you can still have treat days and eat like a king. It’s not all bad.”
The chef has a range of stocks and seasonings (Simon Gault Home Cuisine) available through his Sous Chef store, which give a good punch of flavour to his own diabetic-friendly cooking.
If it sounds like a hectic lifestyle, it is, but the father of one always makes time for his gorgeous daughter, Hazel, now 20 months. “I get time to go home and read the bedtime stories which is pretty cool.”
Hazel seems to have inherited her father’s love of food. “She’s a good eater,” he says. “She gives everything a go and she’ll soon tell you if she doesn’t like it!” he laughs.
Perhaps she’ll join her father in a career in the kitchen? If so, she’ll certainly have Simon’s blessing. “I’d love her to work in a restaurant and wash dishes and things because you learn a bit of hard graft. If that’s what she wants to do, that’s what she wants to do. It’s up to her.”