One of New York City’s top chefs
makes time to mountain bike, snowboard
competitively and run marathons
Most people find one thing they’re good at and stick with it, which is why it’s so surprising to find out that Daniel Humm—one of the reign- ing chefs in New York, the country and the world—hasn’t simply excelled at cooking since his boyhood outside Zurich. In fact, he started out as a nationally ranked athlete. Before he
ever picked up a spatula, he was on the Swiss national mountain
biking team. He’s been a competitive snowboarder. And he can
hardly keep track of the number of marathons he’s run.
At about 1 a.m., Humm gets home from running the kitchen
at Eleven Madison Park. By 7 a.m., he’s downed a glass of carrot-and-ginger juice, pulled on his running shoes and hit the pavement for a run—one hour if time is tight, two hours on every
day he can manage it. Weekends he spends on his mountain
bike—he still races Category 1—or, in the winter, trying to get
to the closest slope. This is the high price of a New York lifestyle: The cycling isn’t bad, he says, but it’s almost easier to fly
to Colorado than to drive up to Vermont.
It beats his former life, training six hours a day and traveling all the time—the harsh realities of a competitive athlete.
One day, burned out, Humm told his father he wanted to be a
farmer. He loved accompanying his mother to buy fresh produce from the source, loved being in nature and having that
intimate relationship with food. His father told him, “You
can’t be a farmer because we don’t have a farm, and you don’t
want to be a farmer on somebody else’s farm,” which rang
“When you’re active, your body craves more
healthy food. I love hamburgers, but it’s not
what I crave after a run.”