World’s Top Chefs Offer Tips for Enjoying Healthy EatingRichard Vines
Danny Meyer, the creator of Shake Shack, sits outside his new Creative Juice store in New York.
Instead of the Double SmokeShack (850 calories) and the Fair Shake (650), there’s Zest for Life (180), with red beet, blood orange pulp and zest, fennel and shiso.
In London, Bruno Loubet prepares peach, salted watermelon & basil salad, salmon confit, at his new restaurant Grain Store. The French chef known for meaty dishes such as hare royale is placing vegetables or fruit at the center of each dish.
Around the world, chefs and restaurateurs are focusing on healthy eating as many diners seek lighter dishes and are happy to embrace the twin ideas of eating to live and living to eat.
Here’s what some of the culinary masters have to say.
Ferran Adria (Ex-El Bulli, Roses, Spain): I’ve written a book on this with a cardiologist. (“La Cocina de la Salud,” with Valetin Fuster and Josep Corbella.) Many people who talk about healthy eating smoke, and much of what is said isn’t true. To eat well is to eat everything -- fruit fish, vegetables, meat -- but in moderation. Walk for 40 minutes each day, 15 minutes of gym and drink only a little alcohol, but good quality.
Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain): Some people know about health but they don’t know how to cook. If you love food, you want to eat. I eat a lot of vegetables but I eat them because I love the taste, not because they are good for me. It’s the same with fish and fruit. But I do need some rules for myself: Everything in moderation, and not too much red meat.
Dan Barber (Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Tarrytown, New York): I’m not a dietician or a nutritionist: I just know that flavor and health go hand in hand. Healthy eating evolves out of people figuring out what do to with the land and doing it healthily, then passing that down through the generations. That, to me, is the epitome of healthy eating.
Raymond Blanc (Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford, England): It’s 20 years since I wrote a wrote a book (“Blanc Vite”) about good food simply cooked. At the time, my publisher thought I was mad and I’d be murdered on the street. But our quality of life is so much linked with good eating. We cannot go on as we have done in the past, with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and so on. We are finally connecting with the true value of good food and with true gastronomy as well.
Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy): Being a chef these days isn’t about fireworks or being a magician. There’s an economic crisis and an identity crisis. We must focus on truth, with dishes that enhance the ingredients, not the ego of the chef. I must take out the fat and explore the soul of the incredible ingredients that heroic farmers, fishermen and artisans give me.
Daniel Boulud (Daniel, New York): Health is always a concern for a chef but it’s not always a priority. To me, it’s first and foremost the ingredients we use and how you establish a regimen of what is right for you, and in proportion. Everything is permitted so long as you control a few important elements: salt, sugar and fat. That’s a challenge for a chef.
Gizzi Erksine (TV chef, London): I want to be able to eat everything. I love food in every guise, a lot of it fried. So it’s important to be disciplined most days, with the occasional blowout. My philosophy is to be good most of the time.
Alexis Gauthier (Gauthier, London): I put the calories on the menu, so people can decide whether they want to go for the healthy dishes. I’ve also got a vegetarian tasting menu. I’ve decreased my dependence on butter and cream and the same for sugar. Market forces push us to be more original-flavor based.
Skye Gyngell (ex-Petersham Nurseries Cafe, London): Food is precious and we need to begin to focus on caring for the land. Good farming practices, eating food where possible that is local and sustainable is a great place to start. I’m interested in the health-giving properties of raw (unpasteurized) dairy products and breads made with unrefined grains.
Anna Hansen (Modern Pantry): For me, eating healthily couldn’t be more important. I cannot start the day without eating a proper breakfast to kick-start the metabolism and if I don’t eat regularly for the remainder of the day, a normal busy day can soon feel like an insurmountable task.
Angela Hartnett (Murano): There’s been a change over the past 10 years, with more guests having dietary requirements and allergies. From a cooking side, we do use less butter and heavy stocks. We have always had a vegetarian menu at Murano from day one. Restaurants are about great service and food and that means accommodating guests’ needs.
Philip Howard (The Square, London): Diners have become far more particular about what they don’t want to eat and far more vocal. When we opened the Square 22 years ago, we might get one vegetarian a week. Now, every single service, we get a handful of dietary requests. I wouldn’t say that has changed my cooking, but it has changed my menus. Now, on every menu, we try to include dishes to accommodate as many preferences as we can.
Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, New York): Healthy eating is really important to me personally because I’m around food all the time. Things have definitely changed. We used to put butter in everything and it didn’t add much to the taste. I love vegetables and they give you a lot of opportunity to be creative. You can’t do a lot with a steak, whereas if you take a carrot, the opportunities are endless.
Bruno Loubet (Grain Store, London): We don’t do enough justice to the vegetable. I’m not vegetarian at all but there is a lot of scope to show that by eating less meat you actually can enjoy your meat more and eat more healthily. I’m a chef and all my life I’ve cooked beautiful ingredients, so I’m not going to start to eat horrible stuff just because it is good for me.
Danny Meyer (Shake Shack, New York): People are looking for balance. They may want to eat a great cheeseburger but they don’t want only to eat a cheeseburger. We offer healthy food options at Creative Juice and you may try it once to do something healthy, but you’re only going to come back if it rings your pleasure bell. Pleasure is the greatest motivator.
Thomasina Miers (Wahaca, London): Eating well is about having fun and using good ingredients, and it certainly doesn’t have to break the bank. My philosophy of eating healthily is to enjoy food as much as I can by not depriving myself of anything. I love butter, cream, olive oil, dark chocolate, fatty cuts of meat. I just don’t eat any of them in vast quantities.
Magnus Nilsson (Faeviken): You can’t be too black-and-white about food, saying I’ll eat this and I won’t eat that. You have to have food that makes you happy. Some people focus too much on what they eat and too little on the rest of their life. They sit in an office all day and do nothing in the evening.
Yotam Ottolenghi (Nopi): Healthy eating is a positive attitude to food, the ability to enjoy eating fully and wholeheartedly. I don’t believe in fads or special diets. Over-analysis and a sense of guilt will end up killing you. Eating everything experiencing whatever the world throws at you -- that will open your mind and make you happy and healthy.
Emma Reynolds (Tsuru): Sushi and especially sashimi are seen as being healthy and we sell a lot of no-carb salads. Women and men in the City (financial district) are more health-conscious and body-conscious than ever. They sit at their desks for eight, 10 hours a day and realize they should eat well.
Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin, New York): We are cooking for people who are well-traveled and educated and want to be healthy. They work in offices and they want something light and fresh. This isn’t just about getting fat. It’s about diabetes. It’s about cholesterol. It’s about heart attacks. It’s about well-being. People are very careful now.
Simon Rogan (L’Enclume, Cartmel, England): We have our own 23-acre farm that supplies us with the most natural, perfect, seasonal fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers which you really don’t need to do much to. My dream would be to serve all of them in their most natural, fresh, flavorsome, raw state.
Juan Roca (El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain): It’s important to eat well but if you are too radical you will never drink red wine or eat red meat. Our restaurant is more about enjoyment. We try to let you know that you are in Girona. We use cuisine like a language, so you will understand our message.
Ruth Rogers (River Cafe, London): When Rose (Gray) and I started River Cafe, we had our vision of Italian food that was seasonal and regional. We cook in the Italian way, which doesn’t involve butter or heavy sauces. More and more, we see people concerned about their health. Everything here is fresh and the fish and meat come whole, so we know what we are cooking with.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Jean Georges, New York): I try to balance my diet, cooking myself a simple lunch of fish or vegetables and then going out for dinner. More and more people are asking for lighter food. In the ’90s, people ate 80 percent protein, 20 percent vegetables. Now, it’s 50-50 or even more.
John Williams (Ritz, London): Healthy eating is very important, especially for a man of my age, height and weight, all of which are over the top. I’m constantly thinking about cooking and eating in a much healthier manner, beginning by eating considerably more fish and vegetables than I ever did. At the Ritz, as part of our kitchen redevelopment, we are incorporating cooking apparatus that reduces the need to sautee.
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include Amanda Gordon's Scene Last Night, Elin McCoy on wine, James Clash on adventure and Jeremy Gerard on U.S. theater.
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