Smart Chefs Stay Slim |

Smart Chefs Stay Slim

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Here at Cooking District we have more than a passing interest in how chefs can stay fit and healthy. Each week we check in with chefs Lisa and Joe Brefere in our Moving Towards Moderation column which is tracking the diet and nutrition choices and changes they are making on Joe's path towards major weight loss. But we are always interested to see how other chefs handle the challenge of keeping the excess pounds at bay when our day work consists of tasting and perfecting dish after dish, often consuming hundreds of incidental calories.

It was a question that author Allison Adato wanted answers to as well. After she began covering celebrity chefs for People magazine, Adato found the top button of her jeans beginning to strain, but wasn't interested in giving up her taste for good food. She wondered how these chefs who were feeding her so well kept themselves so slim. She covers how in her new book Smart Chefs Stay Slim: Lessons in Eating and Living From America's Best Chefs . Along with a forward from Art Smith, who lost a huge amount of weight after being diagnosed with diabetes, the book features more than 90 tips (and recipes) from the likes of Eric Ripert, Wolfgang Puck, Andrea Reusing, Rick Moonen, Cat Cora, and chocolate maven Jacques Torres.

Some of our favorite tips gleaned from Adato and the chefs:

Put down the tasting spoon. (And pick up a carrot.) Over the course of an average day working in the kitchen, “you can be tasting and feel like you haven’t eaten anything, but meanwhile you’ve already ingested 800 to 1,000 calories in sauces alone,” says Michelle Bernstein, chef-owner of Michy’s and Sra. Martinez in Miami. Her solution: “Dipping lettuce or a carrot means my body doesn’t trick my mind into thinking I haven’t eaten anything, plus it means I’ve had something nutritious (but not highly ­caloric) before the meal.”

Nothing is good to the last bite. “The most compelling part of a dish is the first three or four bites,” explains Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se. “That’s when you get the maximum pleasure.” Move on to another course after a few forkfuls—or keep portion sizes small enough to maximize pleasure while minimizing calories.

Take delight in your dessert. If you are going to eat dessert, don't make compromises — eat what you will enjoy most. Eric Ripert and Art Smith are among the chefs who indulge in chocolate daily — they just chose a high-quality, therefore highly satisfying chocolate and limit amounts. Smith says yes to a small amount of chocolate, but when it comes to other desserts he advises “You have to say to them: ‘Yeah, you’re a friend of mine, but you can’t visit often.” Alex Guarnaschelli agrees if you’re going to have it, have exactly what you desire. I go straight for the chocolate. Go for the gusto, sit down opposite the food demon, look him in the eye, eat a block of chocolate, and move on. Don’t kid yourself. Yes, I love fruit. But, really?”


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