If you pedal a bike with Seamus Mullen, the first thing you notice is the cadence. Seamus doesn’t grind, exactly but there’s a relentless quality to his 75 rpm that reflects his personality, a quiet but relentless drive. I came to visit the well-known cook at his home away from home, a mountain-modern house tucked next to a steep hillside in Pawling, NY.
"I was up early hunting," Seamus said as I walked past his mud room shoes: calf-high boots sat next to a pair of mountain bike shoes. "It’s such a nice time to be in the woods."
Seamus made his name in food getting himself out of the woods. At his lowest point, Seamus Mullen almost died after developing bacterial meningitis. The pain from his RA was so bad that it took him ten minutes before he could get out of bed and then he would move to a chair where he would sit for another fifteen minutes before he could move again allowing time for swelling in his feet and hands to come. After being hospitalized with meningitis, Seamus reached out to Dr. Frank Lipman who has authored several books and is an integrative doctor, addressing emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental influences that can affect a person’s health. From there, the award-winning restaurateur, pushed rheumatoid arthritis into remission with clean eating and a focus on bike riding and healthy living. At 45, Seamus looks ten years younger, and he keeps a wild schedule: writing, riding, speaking and affecting people with food inspiration.
"It’s clear that Seamus has decades of riding passion within." described Tim Johnson, the former six-time cyclocross national champion and pro racer. "Like the rings of a tree, I can tell he’s continued to grow and change as a person while always keeping a love for the bike at his core."
That becomes clear when Seamus is cooking. There’s a deliberate nature to what he does that feels like sport. He lists one of the central tenants of his own cooking philosophy as finding joy in the kitchen.
"Food shouldn’t be cheap. It’s important and we’ve been lulled into thinking it should be fast and cheap. Good food costs more in money and time." Seamus explains grating garlic over a microplane into what will eventually become a vegetable frittata. Seamus grew up near Thetford, Vermont, a fact that informs his cooking and his ability to affect a native backwoods Vermont accent.
"Ayuh, This thing is great," Seamus says loading the broken pieces of a full head of cauliflower seasoned only with salt (Jacobsen large flakes) and smoked paprika spice mixture into a Traeger Smoker. "We can ride and when we come back, it will be ready. Simple."
The riding in Pawling rolls in two directions only: up or down. Steep pitches of tarmac rise out of the valley floor. "You have to come back when there isn’t snow on the ground, you’ve got to see these rides in the summer," Seamus describes pointing out houses of friends and historic monuments at most turns. "There’s just so much good stuff around here to ride."