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A Special Love w/ Shauna + Dan Ahern: Throwing Out The Rules and Finding Joy in Enough

by Faster Than Normal

I want to thank you for listening and for subscribing to Faster Than Normal! I also want to tell you that if you’re listening to this one, you probably listened to other episodes as well. Because of you all, we are the number one ADHD podcast on the internet!! And if you like us, you can sponsor an episode! Head over to  It is a lot cheaper than you think. You’ll reach… about 25k to 30,000 people in an episode and get your name out there, get your brand out there, your company out there, or just say thanks for all the interviews! We’ve brought you over 230 interviews of CEOs, celebrities, musicians, all kinds of rock stars all around the world from Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Keith Krach from DocuSign, Danny Meyer, we’ve had Rachel Cotton, we’ve had  the band Shinedown, right? Tons and tons of interviews, and we keep bringing in new ones every week so head over to  make it yours, we’d love to have you, thanks so much for listening!  Now to this week’s episode, we hope you enjoy it!


A little about our joyful couple/team today! Shauna M. Ahern is a writer, teacher, and lifelong believer in people. She loves to help others find their joy. Shauna built a huge online community through her food blog, Gluten-Free Girl. She and her husband, Daniel, taught culinary getaways in a villa in Tuscany, appeared on The Food Network, and won a James Beard award for one of their three much-beloved cookbooks. After writing Gluten-Free Girl for 14 years, Shauna followed her gut to shift her writing work to something more vulnerable. She wrote a brave book about her childhood trauma and how she unraveled herself from it, to help others.  That book, ENOUGH: Notes from a Woman Who Has Finally Found It  was recommended by Brené Brown, The Washington Post, and thousands of readers who say the book has changed their lives. Shauna is humbled by the many awards she has won for her writing and teaching. But her biggest joy is helping other people to see the best in themselves. She has guided hundreds of people to see their place in the world more clearly, through her writing workshops and coaching. The best of all these experiences was the joy of creating and being in community.  —

Daniel Ahern has spent his life working to give people joy in the belly.  Dan, along with his wife Shauna, created three much-beloved cookbooks. Their first cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, was named one of the best cookbooks of 2010 by The New York Times. Their second cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Every Day, was awarded the James Beard award in 2014. And their third cookbook, American Classics Reinvented, was nominated for an excellence award in 2016 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Before crafting cookbooks, Dan cooked in restaurants around the United States, including Gramercy Tavern in New York and Papillon in Denver, as well as Cassis Bistro and Impromptu Wine Bar in Seattle. When he was 14, he found his passion in the kitchen, which was his place to serve others for decades. Now, Dan is cooking and serving in a new way, with a recipe newsletter called Joy in the Belly. Diagnosed with ADHD at 50, Dan is starting to understand his own mind and his quirks in the kitchen. No longer in the restaurant business, Dan is now sharing what he has learned about his ADHD and how he is working with it joyfully now, instead of worrying he isn’t good enough. He shares tips about working in the kitchen with ADHD, being kind to yourself when you forget to do the dishes, and some kickass recipes. Dan lives on Vashon Island, in Washington State, where he is happy and learning, with his wife, his two kids, two cats, and two bunnies. He thinks he might never cook rabbit now. Maybe.  


In this episode Peter, Shauna and Dan discuss:  

1:42  –  Intro and welcome Dan and Shauna!!

3:14    On being diagnosed with ADHD at 50. Did it all just suddenly make sense?

4:23    The writing process when you’re ADHD and have a super spouse.

5:11    The importance of movement as relates to the creative process

6:00    To hell with “The Rules” post-pandemic. On finding the best solutions for what works!

7:00    On the importance of FUN / Shauna’s newsletter Finding Joy in Enough

9:21  –  On being married, and making the relationship work with living/working together. Do you ever want or need a chance to get away from each other; how does that work?

10:45    Their home is not on the same island where Michael Douglas lived in the movie Disclosure

11:05    When things get crazy, how do you prioritize and still make it work?  Ref:  Shauna’s book “Enough”

12:30    Peter is referencing a super interview we had with Chef Jason McKinney Thank you again Jason!! 🙂

13:19    On dealing with the lure of drugs/alcohol/addiction within the food industry.  

15:18    On the benefits of living in a neurodivergent household.

16:41 –  What advice would you give your 15yr old self, just starting out in the restaurant business; that might help yourself find the right path?

19:22    Thanks Dan and Shauna – how do people find you?

Yeah, Danny has a newsletter now, which is all about having ADHD and becoming  a home cook after years of being a chef, and it’s called and mine is  Soon there’ll be a website called Practicing Joy, that’s really what I’m working on is reminding each other to find moments in the day to focus on joy, because that’s really the whole point of life. You can also find the Ahern’s on the Socials Dan is at: @DanAhern68 on Twitter  Shauna has deleted her former Twitter and Instagram as of Sept.1, 2021.

20:00    Thank you so much Shauna and Dan! And thank YOU for subscribing, reviewing and listening. Your reviews are working! Even if you’ve reviewed us before, would you please write even a short one for this episode? Each review that you post helps to ensure that word will continue to spread, and that we will all be able to reach & help more people! You can always reach me via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials. As always, leave us a comment below and please drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! Do you know of anyone you think should be on the FTN podcast? Shoot us a note, we’d love to hear!

Ref:  Peter references this episode with Siri Dahl  Also- we’re pretty sure his last name is still Shankman, not “Shenkins”, but if anything has changed, we’ll be sure to tweet about it right away 😉 

20:56    Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits



Hi guys. My name is Peter Shankman. I’m the host of Faster Than Normal.  I want to thank you for listening, and I also want to tell you that if you’ve listened to this one, you probably listened to other episodes as well of Faster Than Normal.  We are the number one ADHD podcast on the internet, and if you like us, you can sponsor an episode.  Head over to  – that’s It is alot cheaper than you think. You’ll reach… God about 25….30,000 people in an episode and get your name out there, get your brand out there, your company out there, or just say, thanks for all the interviews we brought you over 230 interviews of CEOs, celebrities, musicians, all kinds of rock stars all around the world from we’ve had… God, who have we had…we’ve had Tony Robbins, Seth Goden, Keith Krach from DocuSign, we’ve had Rachel Cotton, we’ve had  the band Shinedown, right? Tons and tons of interviews, and we keep bringing in new ones every week, so head over to  grab an episode, make it yours, we’d love to have you, thanks for listening.  Here’s this week’s episode, hope you enjoy it.

You’re listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast where we know that having ADD or ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Each week we interview people from all around the globe from every walk of life, in every profession. From rock stars to CEOs, from teachers to politicians who have learned how to unlock the gifts of their ADD and ADHD diagnosis, and use it to their personal and professional advantage.  To build businesses, to become millionaires, or to simply better their lives. And now, here’s the host of the Faster Than Normal podcast, the only man who squirrel??? (indistinguishable)  Peter Shankman

1:42 -Yo, yo yo what’s up guys? Peter Shankman here, thank you for being here. It is a gorgeous day in May. I don’t know how the heck we’re in May already, but it’s a gorgeous day in May of 2021, where we are producing another podcast for Faster Than Normal, live on the 56th floor in Manhattan with a dog running around, under my legs, everywhere named Waffle.  We have some fun people on the show as always. We’re going to talk to Dan and Shauna Ahern.  They’ve created three hugely great cookbooks. You might know the biggest one, …which was named one of the best cookbooks, 2010 by the New York Times, excuse me, I live a block from the NY Times, they have never named shit of mine, uh, one of the best of anything, but whatever.  Their second book, … was awarded the James Beard Award in 2014 and their third cookbook, was nominated for an Excellence Award in 2016, by the I got up and worked out this morning. so, you know…. hey, we’re, we’re both great. Anyway, I am thrilled to welcome Dan and Shauna because Dan got diagnosed with ADHD at 50 years old, so we’re going to talk about that, and we’re going to talk to Shauna about what that was like, to sort of wake up one day and say great, everything I know has changed. Welcome guys. 

Thank you, Peter. That’s pretty darn accurate actually.   

So, you know, obviously having ADHD and being diagnosed at age 50, obviously didn’t, uh, didn’t really mess you up if you were able to get, uh, three incredible cookbooks, um, you know, and all these accolades for them. So talk about, Dan I mean,  you started off, you were cooking in restaurants all around the US, you were at…you were at  as well as (indistinguishable) to in Seattle, which I’ve been to, um, you’ve been doing this for decades now, right?  So, I mean, when you got diagnosed, was it sort of like, okay, yeah, that makes sense, and that totally clears out why I do what I do, or was it, was it a shock?

No, it made total sense. It made me kind of think back, you know, restaurants are full of odd people and there’s probably a lot of people in there with ADHD and they don’t know it and it just it’s an adrenaline fix and then I can really like hyper-focus on what I’m doing with cooking and getting into the whole groove of the bit, the job. 

It made total sense. I mean, when I, frankly, the diagnosis, this was the last part we both started researching, I started researching… I’m the researcher, sorry, um, I started thinking right away when he was in restaurants, he made total sense, but as soon as leaving restaurants, like when we started writing our cookbooks, there were parts of his brain that fascinated me, but also puzzled me. Um, in fact, when we wrote our first cookbook, the very first day that we sat down to write a recipe, we had a brand new baby, maybe three months old. Um, I said, okay, sit next to me on the couch with a laptop, and you talk, I’ll type… and let’s talk about that chicken dish. And he was tongue-tied, and I kept thinking, wait, what, you know what, maybe he’s overtired. Um, so let’s leave it for tomorrow. And the next day I was working on, we used to write a website called Gluten-Free Girl… for many, many years. So I love those for that and said, Hey, what was that recipe that we yeah, and he was playing the Tiger Woods Golf game on the Wii, so he was moving and I, and he just went okay, ¼ C chuck, da, da, da, da,  immediately all came back and I thought, okay, wait, hope, let me get that recipe from last night, open up that file and said, tell me about… keep playing golf, and he had all of it as muscle memory in his head, and I realized at that point, everything he’d ever done in restaurants, he was moving. So you remember those things, if he was moving. So we wrote entire cookbooks with him, video games or cooking while he was talking. 

I love that story. You know, I, I will not take in-person regular, boring meetings anymore.  All my meetings, if I can, if I can help it have to be, um, walking meetings. 


I joke that I have a very Aaron Sorkin life right. In, in that I have to have a walk and talk at least once a day and they have to be a lot of corners and we have to make a lot of turns. And, you know, it’s, it’s phenomenal. It’s literally the opening scene of the first episode of the West Wing.  And, um, uh, but it works, it works so well, and it’s so much more productive than sitting down at a desk and trying to do whatever it is you have to do. 

Well, that’s been the biggest lesson for both of us and especially for me, and I think special, especially this year of COVID, yeah, we realize now that all the rules that we were so host to follow, were all made up anyway, it all came tumbling down during this, and so the hell with success as is normally defined in America… for both of us, the idea of success is doing work. we love, feeling content while we’re doing it.  And that’s a completely different model than, you know, you must rise the corporate ladder, or you must do this thing and win these awards.  We love the accolades we got, but it was more that the people who wrote to us and told us we had helped their families and they had joy in their lives because they thought their four year old kid got diagnosed with celiac and he’ll never have a normal life, and they started making our recipes and thought, oh, this is no big deal, and we helped them feel better. So for me and for Danny both, it’s just what works. My motto is find a solution. I don’t care what it looks like, just find a solution, so it works well, and you feel good. 

I think that, that you really hit the nail on the head. A lot of, you know, I’ve been an entrepreneur now for God….24 years and, um, that’s really scary and, um, happens literally half of my life, and, um, I find that, that I am a huge fan. Not only professionally, but personally as well. If it’s fun, do it. If it’s not fun, either figure out how to make it fun or do something else. And I’m never gonna understand people who look at work as something they have to do so they can have fun when they’re not doing…. I’m like you should be having fun while you’re working as well, and if you’re not, there’s a problem there. 

Absolutely. I mean, a lot of my work now, I don’t write Gluten-Free Girl anymore, and I do write, um, this newsletter called Finding Joy in Enough because my work now is all about joy. Especially after this last year, we survived this year. We have a 12yr old and a 7yr old, and we decided early on, like, let’s just make sure there’s just as much joy in the day as possible.  So we watched all of the Avengers movies, which were absolutely (laughter) we’re also, um, you know, we just started eating in the  living room instead of the dining room, because everyone felt more comfortable, whatever tiny thing we could choose, they gave people some joy in this moment. That’s what we’ve chosen now, it’s the work I do.  And that’s what I see is there’s no joy in standard America. It’s not a culture built for joy, and especially for those with ADHD or  neuro-divergent minds, you know… you’re supposed to try everything you can to be neuro-typical, and this is boring as hell. 

Yep, and I think that also in that same vein, that makes it difficult for a lot of people to have personal relationships, you know, I know that that when I was married, it was very tough.. and we’re great friends now, probably because we don’t see each other every day, but it was, it was very tough, you know, I’d come home and I’d be wackadoodle excited about something I did, right? It was the greatest feeling in the world. Oh my God, that’s awesome, and of course the first thing I have to do, um, you know… OMG, I gotta tell her everything about that, oh my God. da-da-da-da-da-da,,,,and, and the ADHD in me, wouldn’t let me think about, well, maybe she’s had a shit day or maybe she’s tired and maybe she’s maybe she’s feeding the kid or me, you’re gonna, maybe she doesn’t want to hear me come in and, and, and, you know, explode…..over everything, and that took a long time to learn and it took a long time to learn. And I think that, that…. when you’re ADHD, it just seems normal. Why wouldn’t everyone want to share everything amazing all at once in the first…brain debit in the first second that you get, you know? And, and no, that’s really not how people work, um, not all of them, and so, so there’s a lot of learning, I think, in, in the, uh, in the world of, of, of when one person has ADHD and the other person isn’t, um, yeah, I think that’s really important. And so, and so the fact that, um, that you guys are able to play off of each other’s strengths… 


 It’s phenomenal. But so here’s the thing.  You, you are married, 


you work together…


 you live together…


Tell me that you’re able to get away from each other every once in a while. And how do you do that?  

Hotel nights in the city! 


We live on an island off of Seattle, about a 20 minute ferry ride and every once in a while, we’ll just look at each other and say, I think I need a night.  


….go book on Priceline, a cheap hotel or whatever the app of the day is, and then one of us will go and the other will take the kids. 

I love that. 

Last time we went, I took three books and I read three books in 24 hours. Really? We’ve got a 12 year old, a seven year old and there was no time to like, luxuriously read a thing I want to read, so yeah, and we don’t care what the hotel is, as long as it’s clean, we just do, but yeah, he goes, and then I go….

We order take-out, go back to the room.  

Oh, I love that so much. And, and I need to do….I need to do an ADHD segue here, completely unrelated. Do you guys live on the same island? That was, um, that Michael Douglas lived on… in the movie Disclosure.

No, no, we live in rural lovely place. It’s the same life as Manhattan and two miles wider. And they’re 10,000 people here. 

Oh my God

Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. 

That must be beautiful, that must be incredible. I’m sure. So tell me about… it can’t  all be…. uh, sugar canes and plum ferries,,, there has to be some craziness.  How do you guys deal with it? 

Uh, Danny?  


Danny, why don’t you step into the minefield, go ahead. 

I just go into the kitchen and start cooking. (laughter)  

I think, I think we, you know, we’ve been together for 15 years now and I am astonished every day that we get a chance to do this. And for me, really, there are two points of life taking care of each other, and joy, that’s it. And so for me, having a chance to really take care of Danny and my kids, while also at the same time taking care of me, I didn’t get that as a child. Um, I wrote about it in my book enough, I had a very, very difficult childhood, and so I came out of it as a full grown adult thinking I’m going to do better, I’m going to have boundaries and I’m going to have kindness, and when we fight, which is very rare, it’s always about the dishes.


Yeah. So I’m so I’m just telling you, like, you know, to putting them in the sink, and calling it good and letting someone else do it.

 They’re used to handing them off to the dishwasher at the restaurant….

I do….is doing kind of a half-ass job, at cleaning up,,, but 

 I want to ask you something. Cause I, I interviewed someone yesterday just randomly, because I guess there’s like food week on Faster Than Normal, I interviewed someone yesterday with ADHD who worked at French Laundry and, um, and he started his career like tons of small restaurants (da-da-da) . And, um, one of the things that….that we were talking about is the, the, the, the less, uh, top level restaurants, like, but not that, not the Michelin rated ones, the diners or whatever, there is a massive, uh, from what everyone tells me, there’s a massive drug problem in the kitchens. And did, I’m curious to know. If that ever affected you, Dan, in the respect of that, when you’re ADHD, you tend to be drawn to things like that on occasion, right. Or until you learn about yourself, right. 

Oh yeah….

….anything that gives you Dopamine, and you’re like, holy shit, I need this forever, right?  And so… I’m curious if you’re comfortable talking about that. If that, if you ever saw that or that or affected you or anything like that? 

Um, well, the, one of my first, uh, restaurant kitchen meetings. I, I was 15 years old and I got to the meeting and thought, okay, this is going to be interesting. And the, the manager of the restaurant said, okay, guys, we’ve really got to cut down on the cocaine use this year. 


holy Jesus, here we go… this is going to be interesting. Um, I, I saw a lot of drinking in restaurants and a lot of drug use, but I’d never. And the restaurants…. that was my life, that was what I wanted to do, so I didn’t want to affect it like that.


You know, I’m, I’m, you know, I’m guilty as the next guy, of… you know, drinking on the job or going into the workroom really fast, but I had not, not to the extent that I’ve seen a lot of people just destroy themselves with. 

Yeah. There’s no…. with Danny, I should say how proud I am of him, he’s a recovering alcoholic. He has been so screwed up,,

God Bless….

Um, so, the willpower, you had to quit that.. and cigarettes, while still being in a restaurant was amazing.  Um, but we’ve talked about it a lot there. There’s definitely a lot of, um, ADHD and Dopamine hits… the being on the line itself is an adrenaline rush. Yeah. Um, when Danny was at Impromptu, it was a very small restaurant in Seattle. And one time his, um, assistant step, you know, she didn’t show up for work and he called me and I was pregnant, he was like, I’m sorry, can you step in? Cause I’m totally out of like, of course, and being on the line with him, just like, okay, we needed this and sort of preparing salads, little things, cause I know food, I wanted to have a panic attack. I’m like, but there are like 28 things, orders in, I have never seen him so calm for him.  He was just like, we’re going to move here and we’re going to do this and he didn’t talk, and he just commanded it. 

Yeah, well, that’s what they say about people with ADHD is that, is that… this is the person with ADHD is the person you want when everything goes to shit, because they will, now that being said on the flip side, you know, they’re not necessarily the best at handling taking out the trash on Wednesday on one, on a random Wednesday afternoon.


I don’t know what you’re talking about….

Oh sure, I get the trash out…

We, I mean, with, with kids, and knowing Danny’s brain as well as I do, and then our daughter is also diagnosed with ADHD. She’s 12, um, we think our son is too, but he didn’t have enough school this last year….for a teacher to be able to write those evaluations. You know, I just, we just run a neuro-divergent house, and so I’m really good at making the schedules and the structures, and I know how important they are.  Our kids love routine, and so I’ll say, okay, at 7:15 we’re doing this, and it’s 7:30, we’re doing this and it’s time to get going, and… uh, that helps a lot. Um, and I have friends who say, God, I would never be able to do all that, you do so much for them, but for me, I also know how much I love them, and I want them to feel at ease in the world and whatever his brains to make it muscle memory, so they don’t have to think about it. 

I would, I would suggest also that, that you guys seem a little more self-aware than, uh, your average parents, so I think that’s awesome. I think your kids are very, very lucky in that regard. Um, I will, I will close it with, with one question, cause I want to be respectful of your time, and every episode’s only about 20 minutes cause you know, ADHD, but, um, what….exactly…..squirrel, um, If you could tell… 15yr old you… who’s just starting work his first time in a restaurant, what it’s going to be like, or, or one piece of advice that would benefit him, or you as well.  So if you could give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say, to um,, sort of put them on the right path in the beginning. 

Um, stick with  it, if that’s something that you really want to do, stick with it, there’s going to be ups and down days, and you’re just, there’s one da  you’re going to be feeling like everything is just ticket and everything’s on fire, and everything’s perfect, and then the next day, you, you, you, your heads so far up your ass, you don’t know where you’re going.  (laughter)  and….. you …. you have those days… where you look at the clock, like  oh crap, it’s only 5:30, good times… but no, you just gotta work at it and stick to it and come up with a plan of how you’re going to do things. When you start, when things start falling apart and come up with and just…. cooking is so you get, you get, you get in a tunnel and that’s one, one of my problems sometimes, cause I get very hyper-focused profession, but you just got to stick to it and…

 follow your dreams 

and follow what makes you happy. 

And that’s what, that’s what I would say to my 15…. go ahead, sorry. 

No, everybody… I want to have you guys back, um, at some point in the future, because I think that we could do an entire show just on sort of the tips and tricks that you’ve learned from working the lines and things like that. And, you know, the concept of focus.  There’s a, um, I’ve wanted to do this for a while and I’m actually excited. I finally found someone who’s going to allow me to do it. I’m going to shadow, um, a short order cook this summer for a, for a week, um, for no other reason than I just really, I, when I asked the guy, the, the owner of the diner, he goes, uh, son, you have a good career, why the hell would you want to throw it away and become a short-order… I’m like , no, no. I’m like, no, don’t I don’t want to become a short-order cook, I just want to learn how to do it. And so I’m going to shadow someone for a week and I’m really excited about it. He said, you know, I said, any tips before I get started? And he goes, the one thing, you know, he goes, prep is everything, and so I would love to do an episode with you guys at some point in the future where we talk about, you know, the tips and tricks you’ve learned that from cooking that you can apply to your life. So we’ll get definitely gonna have you guys back, and I really, really appreciate you both taking the time.

Absolutely, it’s such a joy to talk with you.

 Guys let’s, uh, give a shout, if it were….. to Dan and Shauna.  Cookbook authors,  chefs, parents, ADHD, neurodiverse, and this is….. it doesn’t get any better than this. This was a phenomenal interview, we’re definitely gonna have you guys back. Thank you so much.  Real fast, do you guys have a website? How can people find you? 

Yeah, Danny has a newsletter now, which is all about having ADHD and becoming  a home cook after years of being a chef, and it’s called and…. 


Mine is  …soon there’ll be a website called Practicing Joy, that’s really what I’m working on is reminding each other to find moments in the day to focus on joy, because that’s really the whole point of life. 

Very very cool. joy I love it, guys, thank you so much for being here, we’re definitely gonna have you back.  Guys, you’ve been listening to Faster Than Normal, as you know , every week we have a new episode full of really, really, really super cool people like Shauna and Dan and others, um, tune in next week.  If you haven’t listened lately and you’re just sort of coming back because you were, I don’t know, you know, in quarantine for the past year or whatever, um, we had…. last week, we had Siri Dahl who is an adult film star with ADHD, and she’s also a powerlifter and she talks about what’s going on in her world. I strongly recommend checking that interview out, that was a lot of fun. And ironically, it took an adult film star… my producer let me know that, the adult film star interview was the first interview where I didn’t curse once. So I don’t know. I don’t, I don’t know exactly how it happened, but all of a sudden we didn’t have to. He’s like, yeah, we don’t have to put the, uh, the mature themes, uh, logo on this episode. I’m like.. with the porn star, tThat’s really strange.  So make sure you check that one out and we will see you guys next week. My name is Peter Shankman, thank you for listening to Faster Than Normal, take care.  ADHD  is a gift, not a curse, we’ll see you soon.  


Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week. 


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