Perfect Pairing — Chefs and Dietitians Unite for Healthy, Flavorful Cuisine
By Bryan Roof, RD, LDN
Vol. 12 No. 2 P. 8
Many chefs hesitate at the thought of working side by side with a dietitian. Despite their obvious connection with food and eating, some would even say the two are as different as chicken and chickpeas. A chef might perceive a dietitian as an evil stepsister who slaps his hand on the way to a generous pat of butter to finish a sauce or a healthy pinch of salt to liven the flavors of an otherwise bland dish. Conversely, the chef could be considered somewhat of a dietary outlaw. Watch the face of a dietitian cooking alongside a chef, and you're likely to witness a gaping mouth, wide eyes, and muffled gasps. In reality, these two professionals are more alike than they think … or at least they should be.
Still, both professionals approach food from two very different angles. The chef is inspired by the season, customer wants, culinary trends, and, most importantly, taste. A salad of freshly harvested beets, artisanal goat cheese, and black walnuts is a waste if it doesn't actually taste great. The chef's entire training has been focused on making the customer happy, sometimes regardless of the health factor. After all, a diner visits a restaurant on average about twice per month. Who cares whether the chef uses a little extra butter as a means to bring a smile to a customer’s face? Still, many times chefs are unaware just how much sodium or unhealthy fat is really in a dish, “so a dietitian can determine the nutritional content and suggest ways to improve the numbers,” says Janice Bissex, MS, RD, one of the Meal Makeover Moms, who has taken the responsibility of teaching healthy eating head-on by helping chefs and busy families learn to cook and eat better.
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