BEING A CHEF doesn’t just arm you with the skills to materialise jaw-dropping dishes out of whatever is lying around in the fridge. If you’re the type of guy who wants to be healthy, strong and look the part, this toolkit makes you more than just a man counting macros; you’re now an architect with the ability to design each plate to deliver the perfect balance of nutrition and taste. With a combo of CrossFit and good – read: really good – eating, chef Scott Parker had forged the type of body all men strive for. At the beginning of this year he was 32, working his dream job as the product development manger for culinary innovation at Woolworths, and close to the best shape of his life. He had his year mapped out. He knew which PBs he was going to crush, the types of dishes he wanted to create, and challenges he wanted to tackle. What he didn’t expect was to find himself confined to a hospital bed after suffering a pulmonary embolism.
It was the end of January. Scott had gone out to walk his dog when he was rocked with a series of chest pains. He was dizzy, and feeling incredibly nauseous, like he’d woken up nursing a secret, killer hangover. He barely made it home before collapsing on the floor. That’s where his wife found him when she returned later that day. The trip to the hospital was a blur.
“I was admitted with severe dehydration,” says Scott. “The doctor told me I suffered a mild heart attack.” His kidneys had also failed momentarily. He was lucky. It could’ve been worse. After frequent tests, back-and-forths over whether something he’d eaten had triggered this knock-on effect of sinister symptoms, and countless consultations, he was dealt another blow: they had found blood clots in his body.
“I was feeling very ropey. And I’m a seriously healthy guy, it was just such a surreal experience, a real shock to find myself in hospital and hearing this news,” he says.
For Scott, it felt like the whole world had toppled around him. He had gone from gymming and running to… well… “This. In that moment it was a whirlwind and I didn’t know what the future was going to look like.”
He was put on blood thinners to prevent the clots from advancing to his heart. Months later, he would find out his condition is genetic, and he would have to take blood thinners for the rest of his life. It means no contact sports. It also means if he’s cut, he could bleed out. For a chef, that means being extra careful with a knife. While this diagnosis threatened to derail his life, Scott saw it differently. It was a chance to adapt. As he had always done, he asked himself: “What do I need to do to get to where I want to be?”
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