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Years before he was slinging “fine-casual” hummus bowls at buzzy downtown lunch spot Little Sesame, Nick Wiseman had a pretty typical restaurant lifestyle. Well, save for the fact that he started cooking at DC culinary fixture Equinox as a 15-year-old Wilson student. He went to college at Berkeley, where he “really got engaged with the provenance of ingredients,” he says. “I eat everything, but where it comes from is important to me.” After graduating with a degree in psychology, Wiseman headed to New York and worked under award-winning restaurateur Fabio Trabocchi. “That lifestyle… I was a cook for many years, working late into the night all the time,” he says. “That gave me perspective about balance.”
The 32-year-old has since swapped 4 AM bedtimes for a more reasonable midnight, despite being the co-owner of three local restaurants: the Navy Yard seafood spot Whaley’s, H Street bar Hill Prince, and Little Sesame. He’s still committed to balance, though. Here’s how he juggles restaurant life with regular training sessions, weekend hikes, and a weekly jog with his wife.
I got into the restaurant business because I don’t like getting up early. I get up around eight and take my dog into the woods in Rock Creek Park. My moment of zen to start the day is my morning walk with her. Then it’s computer work, catching up on emails, making a plan for the day.
The focus of late has been on Little Sesame. I work with the team on the line for the busy lunch shift. Then at 2:30 there’s meetings and I’m floating around the city.
Early evenings, I work out with DC Health Coaches, Brendan Herbert and David Rosenbuam. They’re DC kids as well; we all grew up together. We’ll start with a jog. Then we’ll do mostly circuit stuff. Every couple days we’ll do something more classic—weight lifting, boxing, or bodyweight workouts.
I credit them and my wife, Lea, to getting into a good routine with getting healthy and working out. My wife is an avid runner, seven days a week. One day a week I’ll tag along with her.
We do a lot of hiking. We just got married at Shenandoah. We love to go out to the Billy Goat—I grew up on those trails.
We have a lot of friends in the farming community. On weekends, we go hang out at their farms and cook out on an open fire.
Being in the restaurant world, I’ll often have to go out to dinner. We’re always meeting with folks on our team or meeting with investors or looking for a new space.
Eating is such a central piece of what we do. I had dinner last night with my architect. We’ll have dinners regularly to talk about restaurant design.
My favorite restaurant in DC? That’s a very political question. I’ve been eating at 2 Amys for so many years. It’s simple, honest cooking. Lots of olive oil.
I think there’s more of a commitment across the industry to promote health and wellness. Now I float through working a nine-to-five.
Work meets fun. That’s why I like the restaurant industry.