Chef Cleanse

Chef Cleanse: Michael White Is Devoted to His Juices, Derailed by Reality

“Who orders nothing at Balthazar?” Photo: Melissa Hom

After a long, hot summer of tacos and food trucks, we’re feeling a little overfed and at least somewhat intrigued by all these popular, if pricey, cleanse programs. So, who better to test the cleanse’s effectiveness than chefs, known for their insane lifestyles and unhealthy habits? We asked a few of our favorites if they’d be up for the challenge. Some declined (Andrew Carmellini: “At a reduced caloric rate, wouldn’t your body start to break down muscle? I need muscle to crush heads.”) but others were willing, even eager, to give it a try. Today, we’ll be bringing you three cleanse diets from three seriously pedigreed chefs. Do they cheat? Will they actually forgo food? Can liquid kale conquer all? First up: Michael White, who, for reasons far beyond the Juice Press’s “Drink Your Salad,” had quite a raw week.

Day One
So, I know everyone is thinking, Michael White — the fat guy, juice cleanse? Yup — I enjoy a good challenge. I don’t eat fusili with bone marrow and octopus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but my body welcomes a short hiatus from all things delicious, and I’ve already lost fifteen pounds from watching what I eat, so here goes! I’ll try not to cheat but it’s a big week …

The Juice Press sent me eight juices per day — that’s a daunting amount of juice, but okay. Liquid salads, sweet-potato-pie juice, gazpacho, spicy grapefruit, cayenne lemonade … this is what I’ll be living on for three days. But first, I have a breakfast meeting at Balthazar. Who orders nothing at Baltzhazar? Just fresh fruit and orange juice, but I know that’s cheating-light.

They tell you to drink a lot of water on top of the eight juices, so with all the liquid, I didn’t find myself hungry. However, since I was on the move from restaurant to restaurant, by 5 p.m., I was ready for a nap. Soon enough, I was in bed at 11:15 p.m. with a coconut water nightcap. I watched some Olympics and slept until 8:30 a.m. — two hours later than usual! That definitely had to do with the cleanse. Insomniacs should try it.

Day Two
I slept like a rock. Again. Woke up and grabbed a juice from the fridge — it was out of the prescribed order. Whatever. I just take what I’m in the mood for. The sweet-potato-pie juice is REALLY sweet, but it doesn’t taste bad. I drink a couple sips of each juice at a time. I can’t chug a whole one — too sweet, too spicy, too medicinal, but overall, I do like it. These things are $11 each. I don’t know how they do it. Maybe I should look into getting in the juice business next.

Between my solid sleep and the sweet-potato juice, I was really feeling it. I can do this …

Then I got the Pete Wells memo … New York Times Nicoletta review. Cleanse, as we know it, over. I will now, immediately, be tasting a lot of pizza post-Cheshes/Wells/Sutton reviews. Went home, put my feet up, ignored Eater commentary and tried to stay positive with a coconut juice nightcap. Most chefs would have probably hit the Jameson.

Day Three
Today feels fine, better. I have tried a good amount of juice because my staff “juices,” and I do think Juice Press are the best in the business (and no, no one is paying me to say that). Usually when I drink something spicy, I get serious acid reflux, but the D juice — the spicy grapefruit lemonade with cayenne — is wild. I didn’t need a Zantac after, and it makes me feel totally alive.

I haven’t been perfect, but I feel very alert with the minimal food and maximum juices. I would consider juicing once or twice a week; I have no cravings for soda or salty potato chips, which is rare. I love the gazpacho juice at night time. But to be honest, I topped it with ricotta salata shavings and some extra virgin olive oil — and ate some whole-wheat crackers on the side. But, hey, I’m a big guy. I need a little more sustenance than just juice. Come on!

With that said, I wrapped up my last day feeling pretty great. Slept later than usual all three days, had much more energy, vibrancy, in the morning. I didn’t really lose weight. I guess I cheated … more than once, and that’s why, but it was worth a challenge and was a nice distraction during an otherwise rocky week.

I still gotta live, not to mention my life is conducive to being around copious amounts of delicious-smelling Italian food 24/7. Nothing can get in the way of that!

Related: Chef Cleanse: Alex Stupak’s Exhaustion, Depression, and Exhilaration
Related: Chef Cleanse: Josh Capon’s Delirious, Emotional Awakening

Chef Cleanse: Michael White Is Devoted to His Juices, Derailed by Reality