Mindy Segal and the new HotChocolate
One of Chicago's best pastry chefs explains the breakdown that led to big changes at HotChocolate.
Segal had made two promises going into Miraval. The first was a promise to herself: that she would successfully take a hike. She’d tried hiking once before, but the elevation, the distance from civilization—it all freaked her out. She hadn’t tried since. The second was the promise she made to Kornick about the horse.
She scheduled both activities toward the end of her stay, and crammed the beginning of the week with yoga and meditation. “I took care of myself for the first time,” she says. She felt calmed.
But as her scheduled hike and time with the horse got closer, anxiety crept in. The equine experience at Miraval is based on the idea that horses pick up on human emotion and reflect that emotion back to you. If you’re stressed, the horse will be stressed; if you’re confident, the horse will be confident, too. Segal was paired with a partner and assigned a horse. She was given three assignments: clean the horse’s hoof, groom the horse and walk the horse around the stable. She approached the horse to complete the first task, cleaning the hoof. But the horse wouldn’t lift its foot.
Segal tried again, and then a third time. Each time she returned to the horse, the horse refused to budge. She could feel her stress, and fear, and feelings of failure rushing back to her. She found herself talking to a woman on Miraval’s staff. “I’m afraid,” she said.
“What are you afraid of?”
She told the woman about her restaurant and her foiled expansion plans, about her 16-hour days. The woman asked her: “When is enough going to be enough for you?”
Later, Segal would look back on that moment and see it as a turning point. “It was very profound,” she says. “I thought about what she said. And I calmed down… I think I was able to put things in perspective. And it was good for me.”
But in that moment all she did was go back to the horse. And this time, it picked up its leg.