The Grub Street Diet

Designer Chris Benz Basically Lives on Iced Coffee and Turmeric Tonics

Benz at Il Cantinori.
Benz at Il Cantinori. Photo: Melissa Hom

“Basically, I eat like a disgusting pig, but with a very nice high-low sensibility,” says fashion designer Chris Benz. “Like, a pink-haired truffle pig.” Benz, a CFDA award winner, is known for his quirky use of colors and prints, and his fans include Michelle and Sasha Obama. Food-wise, Benz does indeed mix things up, professing equal amounts of love for McDonald’s and Juice Press, guzzling bottles of Poland Spring water (the brand matters to Benz), and indulging in “the most disgusting kind of candy.” Read all about it in this week’s Grub Street Diet.

Friday, January 10
I pretty much lived off of Fruit Roll-Ups and Teddy Grahams for a good part of middle school, and despite my best efforts at self-starvation in the heady Seattle grunge days, I have always carried a healthy appetite. Now that I am in my thirties, it’s becoming annoying and harder to ignore.

At 10 a.m., I had two fried eggs, American cheese on whole-wheat toast, and two large iced black coffees delivered from Hollywood Diner. It’s my local diner. I also had an assortment of vitamins: I just started taking Propecia, which is a prescription for hair loss — hilarious — as well as biotin, Vitamin D, B-complex, turmeric, Ubiquinol, and virgin coconut oil — just because those pills are pretty.

I went to Juice Press around 2:30 p.m. for “the Remedy” turmeric tonic, a Ginger Fireball, and avocado toast. Juice Press is actually the reason I will probably never own real estate, since I spend what seems like a mortgage payment there weekly on nothing. I am addicted to the Ginger Fireball juice, which is $8 and like one drop of ginger and lemon, but it makes me feel something, so it’s worth it. Fire in the hole, but for real.

Around 5 p.m., I had another large iced black coffee from L&M; Deli, and then, at 8:30 p.m., I drank a Spicy Citrus juice from Juice Press.

I ordered a late-night dinner at 11:30 from Hollywood Diner: mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, and Sprite. And then, at 1 a.m., I ate Chips Ahoy cookies. You really can go through a whole bag if you’re just sitting watching TV. As anyone would venture to guess, working diligently in fashion has not afforded me a galvanized appreciation for food.

Saturday, January 11
At 11:30 a.m., I stopped by Juice Press for another Ginger Fireball, and ate my vitamins. I do care about eating healthy, since you are what you eat. And I am literally like a human supersize big Angus-beef burger right now. You know that thing they tell you about lifting weights that if you stop it turns to fat? Well, it’s true.

I ordered two fried eggs on whole-wheat toast, a large iced black coffee, and a large bottle of Poland Spring water from L&M.; I feel like as long as you’re drinking enough water, you’re good.

In the afternoon, I drank a Juice Press turmeric tonic. And for dinner, my brother and his girlfriend came over, and I ordered pizza from Patsy’s: half pepperoni and half broccoli. I also had a Caprese salad and a large Poland Spring water. Patsy’s is one of my go-tos. Afterward, I drank a bottle of Manic Panic red wine on my stoop.

At 1 a.m., I had Haribo Fruit Salad gummies. The most disgusting kind of candy. I just wanted a little something.

Sunday, January 12
I started my day at L&M; with two fried eggs and cheese on whole-wheat toast. I also had a large iced black coffee and my assortment of vitamins.

For a late lunch around 4 p.m., I ate Patsy’s leftovers from the night before and an arugula salad. And I had a large bottle of water.

I had freeze-dried mango as a snack, and then around 6:45 p.m., I went to the Mercer Hotel with friends for a bottle of Sancerre, a shrimp cocktail, and a vodka-soda. I continued drinking at Marie’s Crisis Cafe, where I had a vodka soda. Keeping it clean.

And at midnight, I had a slice of pepperoni pizza at Karavas, and a large SmartWater. I only strayed from Poland Spring because my friend pulled the bottle out from her purse.

Monday, January 13
Same breakfast: two fried eggs and cheese on whole-wheat toast ordered from Hollywood Diner. I also had two large iced black coffees and my vitamins. I grew up in Seattle, and I’ve been drinking coffee since I was literally 12 years old. I love it so much. But I don’t like anything in it.

Around 1 p.m., I drank a San Pellegrino limonata, and then close to 4 p.m., I had a white-chocolate-macadamia-nut Clif Bar, another large iced black coffee, and a large Poland Spring bottle. Then I drank raw coconut water from Juice Press.

At 11 p.m., I went to Tao Downtown with friends and ate shishito peppers, pork-bun brown rice, Hong Kong noodles, and a mini-chocolate-chip layer cake. We also had a bottle of hot sake. The food was actually so delicious, and it’s so dazzling on the inside. It’s like Las Vegas. Very theme-y, but very fun.

My friends are chagrined by my unwillingness to try new restaurants — which I actually like the idea of, but am paralyzed by too-big menus. But it’s like, why would you want to go farther afield than like two blocks to eat at a place that you know and love? Like on Cheers: Those people weren’t SantaCon-ing themselves from bar to bar. They had their spot where everybody knew their name.

Tuesday, January 14
At 9:30 a.m., I ordered two fried eggs and cheese on whole-wheat toast and a large iced black coffee from L&M;, and ate my assortment of vitamins.

I stopped by Dean & DeLuca around 12:30 p.m. for a large iced Americano and a glazed Doughnut Plant doughnut. Then, I headed over to Mudhoney Hair Salon, where I had a large green tea. I always bring treats to the salon, since it takes like six hours.

At 4:30 p.m., I went to Il Cantinori for a glass of red wine and a mixed green salad. It’s now the top of the list of my restaurants for all seasons, and I also like it there for Fellini fantasies and running into people with Oscars and prescriptions.

I drank raw coconut water from Juice Press. Then, I went to Littlefield, where I had a vodka-soda and a shot of tequila. My friend hosted a comedy show called Mortified: people read stories aloud from their childhood diaries.

At 11 p.m., I headed over to Hotel on Rivington for another vodka-soda and salt-and-pepper Kettle Chips. I was at the Breslin by 12:30 a.m., drinking yet another vodka-soda with friends.

And finally, at 2:15 a.m., I went to McDonald’s for a Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese and a medium Diet Coke. I was not ever sentimental about food — a condition predetermined by a toast-dry Wasp heritage. I really do love McDonald’s. I could eat it every day. I’m not even kidding. I eat it once every few months, and I feel like that’s healthy.

Wednesday, January 15
I started my day at 10 a.m. with two fried eggs on whole-wheat toast and a large iced black coffee from L&M.; And around 2:30 p.m., I had my second iced black coffee of the day.

For dinner, I ordered another large iced black coffee, a large bottle of Poland Spring water, and a cheeseburger from L&M.;

Me and food, food and me: We have a love-hate relationship. But it’s also obviously necessary, and I appreciate it as an art. But give me a big iced black coffee and/or a cheeseburger, and I am fine.

Designer Chris Benz Basically Lives on Iced Coffee and Turmeric Tonics