Combining a practical approach with nutritional priorities, Shawn Brisby is an all-start demo chef who makes healthy cooking easy for anyone. He learned to cook at Canyon Ranch, and now he’s eager to teach guests the techniques and tips that mean success in the kitchen – with minimum fuss and maximum results. His great joy is when return guests report on Ranch recipes they’ve tried at home.
What makes you a Canyon Ranch Wellness Architect, and how does that inspire you to frame the lives of others?
It’s in the DNA of what I do every day. I came to Canyon Ranch 25 years ago, and now I want to teach others what I’ve learned about healthy living.
I think of myself as a “teacher translator.” I show guests how to translate what we do in our kitchen into something they can do at home. It’s absolutely possible, whether your kitchen is 1,000 square feet or 80 square feet. I believe that the teacher hasn’t taught until the student has learned, so I make that my goal. And I use humor to make the lessons memorable.
What is the most important Canyon Ranch philosophy to you?
Moderation over deprivation. That’s what we’ve always believed in at the Ranch. There are so many extreme diets around, a new one every few months. No one can keep up with them or maintain them all. If I choose a reasonable, moderate way to eat, it’s healthy and sustainable.
We talk about eating mindfully at the Ranch. To me, that leads to thoughtfulness in practice, how you live and eat each day. It’s so personal – it’s about how you feel and how you perceive yourself. Don’t let a philosophy turn into dogma.
How do you handle stress in your own life? Why do people in high-stress careers need to know about Canyon Ranch and building a foundation of wellness?
I tend to laugh and joke about everything, even if it’s complaining. It helps keep things in perspective. Blowing up doesn’t feel any better than cracking up – it’s a non-toxic release for all kinds of stress.
No matter how high-stress your career is, you can still laugh. Cooking is one great way to relieve stress because you get an actual, tangible result, which is very satisfying. Delicious, too. And then you can move on.
How do you take time for yourself and why do you think it’s important?
I have a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old, so I spend my time doing things for other people – which is fine with me. It’s a lot of transportation and feeding and listening. I like listening to my kids, hearing about what they need and what they feel. I like listening to people in general, feeling connected and being of service. I feel that way about our guests, too.
Someday I’ll sit on a couch and relax. Not today though. It’s all good.