Techniques of Healthy Cooking


The Culinary Institute of America recently published the third edition of Techniques of Healthy Cooking. It's a massive tome, almost 600 pages long and provides a broad overview of nutritional basics such as current dietary guidelines, recipes planning, and recommendations for minimizing fat, salt, sugar and even alcohol in recipes. There are nearly 150 photographs and over 400 recipes, which yield between ten and twenty servings.

Not only is this a book for professional chefs but the recipes sound more like what you might find in a restaurant than a hospital dining room. Some examples include Grilled Veal with Blackberries and Vanilla, Rabbit and Oyster Etouffee, Duck Breast Crepinette, and Strawberry and Rhubarb Strudel. You can see excerpts from the book here.

I was curious how a culinary school might address nutrition, so I got in touch with Certified Executive Chef Eve Felder, Associate Dean for Culinary Arts at The Culinary Institute of America.

Felder has been a chef at Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley and has held just about every other role in the kitchen from Pastry Line Cook at the Quilted Giraffe in New York to Executive Chef at V. Mertz Restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. She has traveled throughout Europe, the Far East, and North Africa studying the historical connection between the culinary traditions and agricultural practices of different cultures. She also won the first ever educator of the year award from Women Chefs and Restauranteurs, just last year.

Are healthy cooking techniques generally part of a CIA education?
Yes, The Culinary Institute of America approaches healthy food from various perspectives. The first is from the standpoint of ingredients. Are the ingredients sound? Are they seasonal? Have they been treated with care in terms of growing, receiving  and preparing them for a meal.

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The second is from the perspective of deliciousness. What do we do to ensure that a meal is delicious and healthy? What techniques can we use in cooking to enhance flavor? What ingredients from the global pantry are healthy and at the same time delicious?

Third, what is the responsibility, as a professional in the food service industry, to provide food that is healthy and good for you? This is much more of a philosophical discussion that we address not only in the college's kitchen and bakeshop classes but in our academic classes as well. Students at the CIA will ultimately be the leaders of the food service industry need to think about their social responsibilities.

What prompted the CIA to revise this book now?
The college's commitment to leading and providing the industry with a text that will elevate the way in which we think about food.

How is this book different from all the other healthy eating books out in the market?
All of The Culinary Institute of America's texts are written to address the needs of the chef, maitre d' and leaders in the foodservice business. The CIA's audience is not only the professional, but also food afficionados who have a curiosity that goes beyond simple recipes.

Chefs don't often have the healthiest diet, in part because of their career. Any tips specifically for chefs trying to live a more healthy lifestyle?
Come to the CIA! We not only address healthy cuisine in our curriculum but have a 52,000-square-foot recreation center.

Seriously, there are health liabilities to being a chef and it is vitally important that we embrace a balanced life that includes a commitment to exercising, reasonable work hours, and being aware of the long term consequences of eating poorly. Eating healthy is part of the discipline of cooking.

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Usually, people have come to cooking because they have a passion for sharing the table and food. Once we've become a chef we have to reach back to what it means to sit down, enjoy a meal and enjoy the company of people.

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