What are we left with after dining out? Whether a sandwich at a local lunch spot or a $200 seven course meal, all we really have is a memory, the bill and what’s left in our belly to nourish our body.
Is it fair to say that chefs have a pretty big impact on what the world eats and have molded what fine dining has become? Am I doing the unthinkable by saying we [the chefs]need to take responsibility for what we are putting in front of our guest’s and start incorporating the diner’s health into the equation at all levels of cuisine? Break down our menu by nutritional value and see what we are really feeding our guests. Wouldn’t our awareness collectively trickle down to the media and ultimately society’s idea of what to look for in a dining experience.
I used to get offended when people would say, “Don’t trust a skinny chef.” I was thin, of the undernourished variety, fast metabolism; the little I ate didn’t stick. Some discipline, Crossfit and a good diet have allowed great changes to happen for me physically and overall.
Now it dawns on me… Who do people trust to cook their meals? Is it the constipated diabetic chef with the pot belly? Is that the image society has developed? Would you listen to a dentist that let his teeth rot out or an obese personal trainer? Unconsciously we are putting that trust in the men and women in that kitchen every time we walk into a restaurant.
I have grown to get excited when I see a coworker drinking a shot of ginger juice or gulping down a nice nutrient dense green juice that I gave them. Why is that? My love as a chef is to feed people and watch them enjoy my creations. Furthermore, it truly brings me pleasure knowing that you are eating foods that will benefit you physically and mentally for the long run.
I was not always this way of course. It wasn’t until I took some steps in my own life to bring harmony into my body mind and spirit that I started to have an epiphany of what dining should be about.
It is as if the guest is totally dependent on what we give them to recharge their bodies. We are so spoiled that we forget that food is our fuel, our medicine and stress reliever. Able to revitalize organs, cure disease and increase longevity if we just consume the right ones. I am going to say that most people do not consider that enough or are just jumping on what the next guy does.
Yes, I have a deep respect for the art of food and the many ways to prepare and present it. My feelings are like that of many; food is most beautiful when it is simply put in front of the guest the way nature intended. Minimal change needs to be done when you have quality whole foods to work with. I commend restaurants that pay the price for good product and believe in this philosophy.
No one likes to dabble in everything edible without any restrictions the way a chef does. Unless you’re a vegan chef in a raw restaurant you probably have never heard of substituting an ingredient because of its lack of nutrients. Adding something like maca powder to a veggie burger not for flavor but the simple fact that it is full of amino acids and nutrients and its ability to combat stress and increase stamina should not be uncommon. It would be expensive but these are the types of things I would like to see as part of the “progressive modern” high end dining experience.