Dean Sheremet could be forgiven for wanting to turn his back on all matters of the heart. In 2009, his marriage to singer LeAnn Rimes collapsed in a made-in-Hollywood scandal well documented in the tabloids and gossip sites. Of the whole affair, he writes: “She cheated, I got dumped, and we divorced.” After initially being “knocked on my ass,” Sheremet says he found comfort, a sense of purpose, and healing for a broken heart in a surprising place — the kitchen.
At 28, Sheremet traded a glamorous career in the entertainment business (he was a choreographer and writing partner with his ex) for culinary school and four years working in New York restaurant kitchens. He’s never looked back — except to share his lessons in a new book, “Eat Your Heart Out: The Feel Good, Look Good, Silver Lining Cookbook.” The book includes 150 healthy and comfort-food recipes divided into sections such as “The Best Revenge Is Looking Good,” with recipes for healthy post-workout lunches, and “Getting Back Out There With a Bang,” for when it’s time to start entertaining again.
There’s a happy ending: Sheremet has been married to photographer Sarah Silver since 2011.
Q. When did you learn to cook?
A. I was raised by my grandmother, a Depression-era woman. I was in the kitchen with her since I was 5 or 6 years old. I was a hyperactive child. Being in the kitchen was one of the times when I was laser-focused on something.
Q. Was cooking your main interest?
A. I was on track to be a professional dancer. I was classically trained in ballet and grew up dancing eight hours a day. I moved away from home at 18. I was lucky enough to have an agent who scouted me through my [dance] competitions. By the time I got to LA and was doing it professionally, cooking was a hobby for me.
Q. Why did you decide that culinary school was the right next step after your divorce?
A. I was so intertwined with LeAnn and our careers were so incestuous that I needed to have a break from music and the entertainment world and find something that would completely focus me. I needed culinary school. It was a distraction from all of my other distractions. We lived between Nashville and Los Angeles before we decided the split was going to happen. I said I need to make a new life in New York. It was far removed from LA and all the paparazzi [nonsense].
Q. What did you find working in restaurant kitchens?
A. It’s the most humbling experience I had in all my life. I graduated culinary school at the top of my class and went to work for Nobu, doing 500 covers a night and getting my ass completely handed to me. The kitchen is a great equalizer. It doesn’t matter where you came from or what your background is. It’s how much work you can put in and how fast you can do it.
Q. Did co-workers know about your past?
A. I tried to keep all of it under wraps. But it would trickle out and people would figure it out. People rode me harder and it made me better for it.
Q. Since you’ve been there yourself, do you have Valentine’s Day menu advice for someone recovering from a broken heart?
A. I’m a big proponent of taking care of yourself. I’d probably have a really amazing bottle of wine, make a big steak, and have an enjoyable time by myself. Going through that big divorce, I had to learn how to be comfortable with myself again. It’s not bad to be selfish when you need to refocus yourself.
Q. What will you be cooking on Valentine’s Day?
A. I’ll probably be on my couch drinking a bottle of wine with my wife. I’m not big on going out for Valentine’s Day.
Interview was edited and condensed. Michael Floreak can be reached at email@example.com.