Podcast host and New York Times-bestselling author Tim Ferriss — whose 2009 book The 4-Hour Workweek promised readers a gateway into becoming “the new rich” — has a theory for what makes hyper-creative restaurants, well, hyper creative. During a recent taping of the Eater Upsell, the self-help guru argues that despite his reputation for over-optimizing his time, it’s the other half of the equation — making the time to simply allow the mind to wander — that’s crucial.
“When I look at people at the higher ends of the food world — if we’re looking at executive chefs who are really trying to create something new or unique, they are taking that time,” Ferriss says. “You look at Noma: a lot of walks, lots of weird experiments.” (It does appear Noma head honcho René Redzepi is a walking enthusiast even outside his famous foraging expeditions: In a 2014 Guardian article, he recommends strolls in King’s Garden, the Kastellet military grounds, and the Dyrehaven, an animal garden where “there are deer and rabbits roaming free.”)
Ferriss isn’t just a self-help expert: He’s also an investor in the San Francisco restaurants Saison and Flour + Water, among others, and his 2012 book The 4-Hour Chef touched on some of the tech-world #lifestylehacks that could be used in the kitchen. As to be expected from someone so accustomed to “optimizing” his time — and as likely the case with Redzepi et al — Ferriss’s designated free time isn’t always off-the-cuff. “I regularly schedule a lot of slack in my system for long walks,” he says. “There’s plenty of room for spontaneity, but I do think that you still have to block it out, even on a macro level.”
But are long, aimless walks really the key? “If you don’t have these personal projects, time with friends, long dinners blocked out, you will end up checking fucking Facebook for three hours, and then wonder where your evening went,” Ferriss argues. If René Redzepi spent all his time @-ing people Twitter, in other words, there’s less time for him to think up how to cook ants on a shrimp.
Hear the full interview with Tim Ferriss below, as he talks with Upsell co-host Helen Rosner about how to hack your life into a more efficient one. Get the Eater Upsell on iTunes, listen on Soundcloud, subscribe via RSS, or search your favorite podcast app. You can also get the entire archive of episodes — plus transcripts, behind-the-scenes photos, and more — right here on Eater.