How Joe Bastianich Quit Smoking (And Why Chefs Should, Too)


In our imaginations, we think that if Joe Bastianich were to quit smoking, he’d do so by sitting across a table from a pack of cigarettes and hurling withering remark after withering remark at it until it cried and flushed itself down the toilet. But in a New Year’s resolution essay for People magazine, Bastianich recounts his own quest to quit smoking, and no, it did not involve insulting or berating anyone.

A smoker for 18 years, Bastianich pointed to the high-stress nature of the restaurant industry as a strong reason for his addiction. “You might be surprised to hear that those in the restaurant industry — people who rely on their palate for work every single day — have a higher population of smokers than many other occupation[s] in the U.Ss,” he revealed:

It may be the hours we keep, the high stress levels or being surrounded by triggers like food and wine all the time. Whatever it is, the high amount of smoking in the industry makes it hard to say no to a cigarette when there’s always someone asking you to join them on a smoke break.

But he finally kicked his two-and-a-half packs a day habit when his first child was born:

My wife laid down the law, so to speak, and helped me realize I had to get healthy if I wanted to be a good role model for my new family. At the same time, I realized my passion for food and wine was being compromised; my senses were becoming dull from smoking, and in the food and wine industry these senses are crucial.

Though it took him many tries, which he details in the article, he eventually managed to quit smoking altogether and hasn’t smoked for 15 years. Quick math: If Joe Bastianich is 44, and he hasn’t smoked for 15 years, but smoked for 18 years before that, he likely started smoking when he was 11. 11? Seriously?! How did his lungs not turn into soot-covered carcinoma raisins?

(It’s probably because of the lifestyle changes that led him to stop drinking coffee, start sleeping earlier, and begin training for triathlons. Still, we’re impressed.)


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