Chef Marco Canora Shares How Bone Broth Became His Calming Nighttime Drink

The award-winning chef made “the world’s first comfort food” a cornerstone of his health regimen.

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Evan Sung/Evan Sung

You don’t become a chef for the healthy lifestyle. The competition is stressful, the pace is grueling, the hours start early and extend late into the night. Chef Marco Canora was no stranger to the grind—and the toll it can take.

“The first 20 years of my professional life were fueled by caffeine, nicotine and alcohol,” he says. At the time, he was launching Hearth, a restaurant for which he’d go on to win multiple James Beard awards, and 15 years later is still a mainstay in New York’s East Village neighborhood. It was tough work.

“By the time my shift was over," he says, "I was a tightly wound, twitchy mess using alcohol or weed to try to calm my nervous system and prepare me for sleep.”

Eventually Canora decided to make health a bigger priority. That’s when he found himself drinking a lot of bone broth, straight from a bowl with no spoon. And it made him feel great: “Not only was it delicious and great to sip on, but it also felt really healing. It filled me up and gave me energy without the jitters or crash that I got from caffeine.”

There’s plenty of science to back up how good Canora was feeling after his bone broth. Bone broth made from scratch with meat, bones and fresh vegetables contains gelatin, which is extracted from cooking the right bones on a slow simmer for hours, Canora explains.

Gelatin is packed with amino acids that are linked to tons of health benefits, including the amino acid glycine, which is known for calming your nerves, improving digestion and reducing inflammation. And it can be great for sleep.

Glycine curbs the buzzing activity of neurotransmitters in the brain. This produces a calming effect that can help you get to sleep more quickly.

He didn’t know it at the time, but his enthusiasm for bone broth would lead him to his next food venture, a broth company and restaurant called Brodo. The idea started with a side door at Hearth that opened up onto 1st Avenue.

“I just had this nagging feeling that I needed to do something with that door,” Canora says. Then, it hit him: “I could sell broth in a coffee cup with a sip lid!”

He didn’t stop there, offering different broth varieties and healthy add-ins like ginger juice and grated turmeric so people could customize ingredients to their taste and health goals.

Brodo’s broth takeout window launched in 2014 and was a huge hit — there are now five permanent Brodo locations throughout New York City. You can find Brodo in many grocery stores, or have it shipped directly to your door. Perhaps the reason Brodo is so successful is because bone broth really helped Canora change his own lifestyle. There are plenty of products out there that will claim to change your life, but Brodo was born out of one chef’s personal discovery of bone broth’s positive effects and a genuine enthusiasm for the food.

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These days, at 52, Canora says his lifestyle looks nothing like his stressed out, strung out earlier years. He doesn’t have to work late nights at the restaurant. He makes time to relax in his barrel sauna. He winds down with some TV before bed (he and his wife Amanda are currently obsessed with Ozark). He tries to get to bed by 11pm and log eight hours of sleep, preferably in a cold room. And his body automatically wakes him up at 7am, without an alarm.

The healthy habits he’s adopted over the years also happen to support great sleep: exercise during the day, no caffeine after noon, eat a lighter dinner, and try not to eat after 8 p.m. Canora knows that eating heavier meals, or drinking alcohol both affect his sleep. “I am not going to live a life without wine, but I do try to stop drinking earlier in the evening,” he says.

And bone broth has been a great partner in fighting off those late-night cravings. “I will drink it as an alternative to the afternoon munchies, late night snacks, or a boozy nightcap. So, there’s the direct benefit of the glycine in your system, but it also helps with avoiding some of the bad habits we know can be detrimental to sleep.” Canora has found that many customers do the same, swapping in bone broth at night as a substitute for late-night eating.

Making things from scratch with real, simple ingredients is the foundation of Canora’s cooking at Hearth, and that extends to Brodo, too.

“As a chef, I am all about trying to get my nutrition from real, whole foods,” he says. Not taking shortcuts is what makes bone broth actually effective as a part of a healthy lifestyle. As a liquid, he adds, bone broth is also easier for your body to absorb than any pill or powder.

And perhaps most important to any healthy routine: “Bone broth is actually delicious, so people stick to it.”

Learn more about Marco and Brodo Broth at Ships Nationwide.