The chef suffered a massive blood clot in his heart and lungs.

on Jul 18, 2012 - The Dish


As it turns out, this medical condition runs in Nookie's family. "My father died when I was 15, and he died of the same thing. He took a long flight to Alaska and it got him. We figured it all out, it was that long flight from Hong Kong to Argentina that did it. The doctors can tell how old the clot is," Nookie told us, adding that clotting issues are a hereditary condition -- one he had no idea would afflict him.

After his blood was regulated and he was released, Nookie had to stay out of the kitchen for three months, and upon his return in his office, he booted up his computer to find a reminder of just how off he was feeling health-wise before the blood clot. "I finally went back to work four months later, and the screen I had left my computer on had Google searches for walking pneumonia, mono -- I thought I might have these because I felt so bad. Turns out, blood clot in the heart and lungs."

The 37-year-old chef is now on blood thinners for life, and he says "it's probably a good thing that it happened to me as young as I am," because his survival rate might not have been so high later in life. Otherwise, it's a simple program he's following now. "I have to stay on these medications forever, regulate what I eat and try not to die."

And in true Nookie fashion, even when the subject is something as serious as skirting death, things always have to end with a laugh: "I guess they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Isn't that what Kelly Clarkson says?"

The Around the World in 80 Plates finale airs tonight at 10p -- tune in to see if Nookie is the show's first champion.