Chef from High Point hosts national cooking program
Talk about turning one of life’s lemons into lemonade.
That’s what Chuck Hayworth has done since doctors discovered what he describes as “a tumor the size of a large lemon” growing in his stomach more than a dozen years ago.
“That was a tough time,” the 35-year-old High Point native says. “They removed the tumor surgically, and then I had to completely rehabilitate my diet. I was on a complete liquid diet for almost six months, and after that I was on a vegan diet.”
That would be cruel therapy for just about anyone, but at the time Hayworth was a college student whose diet included lots of alcohol, pizza, fried foods and junk food. He wasn’t exactly the poster child for healthy eating.
Today, though, Hayworth claims his dietary about-face played a huge role in his healing process, and now he’s taking full advantage of the experience. He and his wife, Aileen, operate a successful café — Worth It Café in Research Triangle Park — that specializes in dishes made with natural, locally grown foods.
Hayworth also hosts a nationally televised cooking program, “Thankfully Local with Chef Chuck,” which touts his story and encourages others to cook with the organic, locally grown foods he so strongly endorses now. More importantly, “Thankfully Local” shows viewers how to make the switch to a healthier diet.
“That’s the premise of the show, basically introducing America to the flavors of the farms,” Hayworth says. “I’ve owned Worth It Café for five years now, and we do that every day, cooking dishes with foods that have been grown locally. Once my body had completely healed from cancer, I started looking at how I could help other people, and that’s what we’re doing at the café and with the show.”
“Thankfully Local,” now in its second season, airs on the MAV-TV network, which can be seen nationally, including in High Point.
Hayworth’s cancer was diagnosed when he was a student at the renowned culinary school, Johnson & Wales University in Miami, studying to become a chef. He believes — and research suggests — his poor eating choices may have contributed to the tumor.
“It caught up with me,” he says with a chuckle.
After surgery and several months of postsurgical therapy, Hayworth returned to Johnson & Wales with a new outlook on diet.
“There’s a huge natural food movement in Miami, and I had a lot of friends encouraging me to eat more healthy,” he recalls.
“I was just reintroducing solid food back into my diet, and I started learning about things like plant fiber, tofu and miso soup. But the most important thing was that I began to realize the benefits of eating organically and naturally. That has been the true therapy for me — therapy through food — rehabilitating my diet through free-range, organic and natural foods.”
Hayworth landed the cooking show with an assist from his brother, Mike Hayworth, the owner of Fresh Brewed Films and a veteran of the film industry. He pitched the idea to MAV-TV executives, explaining his brother’s dietary transformation, and they agreed to give it a try.
Six half-hour episodes aired last season, and 26 episodes will be aired during the new season, which began Monday.
“The show has been a platform for me to break the mold of unhealthy eating in North Carolina and around the world,” Hayworth says. “I’ve been blessed with a second chance at life, and I’m going to make the most of what I’ve been through by sharing my story and trying to help others.”
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Want to watch?
“Thankfully Local with Chef Chuck,” featuring High Point native Chuck Hayworth, airs at 4 and 7 p.m. Mondays and at noon and 4 p.m. Fridays on MAV-TV.
For more information about the show, visit www.thankfullylocal.com. For more information about Hayworth’s café in Research Triangle Park, visit www.heyyoureworthit.com.