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HowTo Build A Meatball Empire With A Newborn In One Arm

Routine Behavior is a new series where guys who successfully juggle businesses, careers, and parenting talk about the routines that keep them on track. Up next is Michael Chernow, proprietor of New York City’s booming Meatball Shop restaurant chain and soon-to-be star of a food and travel show called Food Porn on the FYI Network. It was a pretty full plate before he and his wife, the fashion model Donna Hemmingson Chernow, had their son 3 months ago, but he handles it with creative scheduling and a few rounds of kicking people in the face every week.

What time do you start answering emails in the morning?
Unfortunately, around 6:30 in the morning.

How do you reconnect with your kid when you get home from work each day?
So far it’s been really challenging because I get home either right before or just after he gets put down. If I get home right before he gets put down, I read him a book.

What’s the one piece of kid-related gear that you can’t live without?It’s probably homey’s little pacifier. He loves his pacifier. He’s 11 weeks. He’s young.

How many times a week do you get home for dinner and do you ever cook?
I cook 2 days a week. We spend the weekend together, and I probably get home for dinner 2 days a week during the week.

How much exercise do you get in a given week and what kind?
I exercise 5 days a week, and it ranges from taking a run to Muay Thai kickboxing to lifting weights. I do those three things.

What’s the longest you’ve ever played with your kid without looking at your phone?
I don’t know, hours. The first 2 weeks after he was born, I did nothing with my phone, and I tried to play with him as much as possible.

How often do you travel for work and do you look forward to it or dread it?I don’t travel as much as I will be traveling, but I probably travel once every 2 or 3 months. Starting in the summer, I’ll be traveling a lot, and I’m not looking forward to it. Although it’s going to be fun, I’m not looking forward to being away from my family.

I’m hosting a food-travel TV show called Food Porn, so I’ll be away for 3 weeks, and then I’m back home for a week, and then I’m away for 3 weeks. Then, depending on how the show does, it could be like that for a while. Ultimately, I’ll be able to fly my family with me for at least one week out of those 3 weeks.

What’s your go-to when you need work-related inspiration?
I’m a runner, so typically I get my best thinking done when I run.

What’s your go-to when you need to completely turn your brain off?
I try to go fishing. I’ve got a house in upstate NY, and there’s a great little lake around the corner from me. If I can, I try to get out into the ocean. It’s not as easy, but I try my best to get out on the water. But now the boy is involved, so it’s harder to get out there.

How’s your attendance record at your kid’s events/games/milestone moments?
He’s only 11 weeks, so it’s not an issue yet.

What’s your kid’s favorite book at the moment?
Huckleberry Finn is a book that I love to read to him, but he really enjoys Fishy Tales or Farm Tales.

What’s your kid’s favorite toy/app at the moment?
He doesn’t play with phones yet. His favorite toy is probably … I don’t know. He doesn’t really play with toys yet because he’s so small he doesn’t grab ahold of anything.