The Diet of a Chef

     Has anyone ever muttered that phrase…ever?

     What would menus look like if the chefs writing them were practicing healthy eating habits in their own lives? By eliminating toxins such as white flour and refined sugar from their own meals wouldn’t they think twice before serving them to their guests? Could that simple shift in their own awareness impact those menus and therefore the health of every guest that came into their establishment?

     As chefs, indulging in everything edible in our own diets is culturally acceptable, yes.  I argue that this blind indulgence is also the easy way out. Developing flavor profiles purely based on taste and pairing them with the right wines is fun.  It’s also getting kinda old.

     What is all this attention aimed at the chef de cuisine while marketing a new restaurant? Is it just because he may or may not have a likable persona among the media and makes food that’s tasty and pretty in pictures?

     Some chefs, like anyone else I choose to spend time with and money on,  are inventive and witty, stand-up citizens of their communities.  They even do charitable work, and that’s all great. But the bottom line is, chefs feed people! At the end of the day, that is what we do. Nourishing or abusing the bodies of our guests with the dishes we create. Sometimes the same people two, three, four times a week. Some may have been eating under the same chef for 15 years and never once talked of or acknowledged the nutritional value of his or her dishes. Sad but true.

     It is like the chef has the guest mesmerized and under a trance as soon as they sit down across from a celeb and smell the aromas permeating through the dining room. As if their natural born human instinct to seek what will bring them optimum health vanishes and the dopamine rushes over them as they savor your succulent duck confit and waffles.

      I say it’s been long enough that chefs are using the excuse of longshifts and no time to neglect their diet. Unlike any other time consuming profession, we have all the God given nutrients we need at our fingertips. Regardless of your role in the kitchen, with a little planning and a routine, any chef, line cook or restaurant worker, could easily be maintaining a healthy diet. That concept should be a no-brainer but in the traditional lifestyle of a chef is nonexistent.

     To want to maximize your nutrient intake means to want to live. To consume toxins and eat empty calories is to invite that disease-riddled, very costly slow death. Chefs have a chance to impact all of those around them and collectively can make a change in how America eats. With just some discipline and a routine to maintain our diet and health, the effect can have a huge impact on what diners expect and how they eat.

     I am working on a book, The Progressive Modern Chef, and have gone in depth on this subject and how I make it possible in my own life. My intention for this blog is to build an audience and put this message in front of as many eyes as possible before the book hits the shelves.

Pictures above are from lunch at home the other day, my example of nutrient dense deliciousness: Pan roasted Salmon with Goji habanero coulis on Kale with toasted pecans and shallots and purple yams tossed with cheesy nutritional yeast. Kombucha Cocktail with Goji and orange puree, blueberries and chia seeds

Food Trend Starts with Progressive Modern Chef

Before I put the cart before the horse, I want to emphasize a few topics I would like to think most are tuned into at this point of our existence. The awareness of diet having a direct correlation with one’s health is a given, right? How about our many pushes at relieving stress from the dominating work load we carry? We do want to remain liable to our passion for the long run without sacrificing our well being, right? Good. And lastly, we have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat,” (more like you are what you consume). Excellent. This is a good starting point for you to see where I am going with this.

I have been in the industry for 16 years and can count on two fingers the number of chefs, owners and co-workers that have uttered the words, body, mind and spirit in a non-sarcastic direction. Through 8 ½ years of hands on education I was never advised to eat right and exercise or seek organic (non-chemical) solutions to relieve stress. Bahaha!! That’s unheard of!

It’s no wonder that this industry has double the percentage of substance abuse and divorce rates over any other workplace in the U.S. You think that the awareness would be more vocal and therefore present more prevalent solutions. Front or back of the house, this has not been my experience.

Isn’t it the lifestyle of our leaders that we inherit and consider the norm? I am going past the farm-to-table, all organic with shaved truffle on top hype. It is not the caliber of a chef’s cuisine that will bring them good health and sanity. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for the chefs I have learned from and do not feel cheated by their message or lack there-of. I truly feel that until I was open to it, I wouldn’t have heard them anyway.

Like most of my predecessors, I am also to blame for not wanting to inconvenience myself and just sweeping it under the rug when I had nothing to offer. Gaining humility and a willingness to think outside the box is the only way I could see the light at the end of that tunnel.

I have always known that chefs can impact those around them greatly. People are entertained by them, donate to charities that they put their faces on and read about them like local celebrities. Is it going too far to say that these chefs can impact much more by first taking action in their own lives? What could it do for the freshies coming into the industry or even the rising obesity issue in this country? Where would food trends go?

I say out with the old, in with the new. FIFO, first in first out. Break out of the old school mindset, if you’re up for it, and into the next progressive modern chef.