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Chelmsford native helped develop QB’s diet plan – Lowell Sun Online

WESTFORD — Allen Campbell looked out over the sea of smiling students at Nashoba Valley Technical High School’s graduation, certain there was at least one among them feeling the way he did when he was that age: alone, hopeless, despairing.

And then he recounted his story: how he went from Nashoba Tech’s culinary arts program to college to the restaurant world, how he struggled with depression and addiction, how he got sober and became interested in a sustainable plant-based diet, how his ideas landed him as the personal chef for a certain New England Patriots quarterback.


“I wanted to reach out to that person in the crowd feeling like I was and let them know, ‘You have a shot at this,'” Campbell recounted last week. “This school really gave me a foundation to stand on.”

Now 36, Campbell has co-authored the “TB12 Nutrition Manual” with Tom Brady, will deliver a TEDx Talk this month and will release another cookbook with Julie Loria, owner of the Miami Marlins, later this year.

And that whole journey, he said, started out in the kitchen at Nashoba Tech.

Born in Somerville, Campbell grew up in Chelmsford and started at Nashoba Tech as a freshman. Steve Whiting, the school’s now-retired culinary arts instructor, said Campbell was “a serious kid” at first who began to develop a passion in the kitchen.

“The more he got excited about cooking, the more I got excited about cooking,” Whiting said.

Whiting played an important role in the budding student’s journey.

Campbell looked up to him “like a father,” and he leaned on Whiting through his early challenges.

“I was so distant,” Campbell recalled. “I had a very thick wall around me and I was not letting anybody in. He just saw through it. He was one of those teachers that saw through it. Some people are born to be teachers and born to help kids. I think he was one of them.”

After graduating, Campbell went through Newbury College and then began working in Boston. But he was suffering from addiction and depression, and he was experiencing health problems, so he could not hold down a job in a kitchen.

He got sober in rehab, and then moved to Miami where “everything started to transform.”

Campbell began exploring side work as a personal chef — just for a few friends at first — and became interested in developing a healthier, plant-based diet, focusing on “healing with food.” He soon turned down a restaurant job so he could devote himself full-time to fleshing out his new cooking philosophy.

“I could not find a restaurant or hotel in Miami that was cooking the kind of food I wanted to cook,” he said.

After spending some time building his reputation, a confluence of events landed Campbell in talks with model Gisele Bundchen, who is Brady’s wife, and the quarterback. Because of a shared interest in healthy cooking, Campbell said, “it was love at first sight.”

The duo asked Campbell to move back to New England to become their family’s personal chef. For two and a half years, he would visit their home a few times a day, prepare meals and offer diet suggestions.

Last year, he helped Brady compile 89 recipes for the cookbook, focusing on seasonal ingredients and emphasizing plants whenever possible.

“It was incredible,” Campbell said. “It was all based on this philosophy that I created.”

Campbell left his job as Brady and Bundchen’s chef in April 2016, looking again to branch out on his own further. He does consulting work about his diet and speaking arrangements about his journey, and he said he will deliver a TEDx talk this summer.

Later this year, Campbell’s second cookbook contribution will be released. He said Loria, who owns the Marlins along with her husband Jeffrey, contacted him after reading some of his writing about the diet.

Loria did interviews with 20 Major League Baseball players, asking their favorite meals and how they shape their diets during the season. Based on that information, Campbell came up with 125 recipes ranging from dinners to smoothies. The book does not yet have a name, but Campbell said they signed a deal last week for it to come out later this year.

Despite his journeys around the country and his work with high-profile celebrities, Campbell never forgot his roots at Nashoba Tech. He kept in touch with Whiting, calling him at least once a year to catch up or stopping by the school whenever he was in town.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Allen,” Whiting said. “The fact that he’s kept a relationship with me as far as a friend goes, not just as a mentor, but hearing how he’s doing, really warms my heart, to be honest with you.”

Campbell used his graduation address on June 3 to praise Whiting, the man who had been an encouraging paternal figure for so long.

“Some people are born to be teachers and born to help kids,” Campbell said in an interview. “I think he was one of them.”

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisLisinski.

Brady’s playbook

* 80 percent vegetables and whole grains, and 20 percent fish and lean meats, such as some steak and duck.

* No sugar or white flour.

* No nightshade fruits and vegetables, (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes).

* No MSG, iodized salt, coffee, or dairy.

Wife Gisele Bündchen, follows the same diet, though their two children eat a less-restrictive version.

Some nutritionists have questioned whether the diet has real health benefits.

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