These celebrated chefs spend all day around food — here’s how they stay fit and healthy at home and at work.
With the dawn of a new year come resolutions to make changes. Maybe you want to call your mom more, stop yelling in traffic, read more books or, if you’re like most of us, develop healthier eating habits. We went straight to the experts and asked nine local chefs how they stay healthy when they spend all day around delicious food.
Executive Chef at Calabra
How do you stay health-conscious when surrounded by food? You would think with all the access to great food it would make things easier, but for me it’s difficult. I tend to not think about food until I am already hungry, and then I just want to grab something quick and easy. Carbs tend to be the most readily available option and if I eat a salad, I end up hungry again in an hour. I am hoping to use 2020 to change this habit!
What’s a good tip for healthy home cooking? Plan for the week! Buy as much produce as you can from your local farmers market and try to cook seasonally, even if you are not used to using different vegetables and ingredients. I also recommend utilizing a local butcher for meat and fish.
What’s a good, healthy item from your menu? I really enjoy our simply grilled branzino with cucumbers, tomatoes and mint zhoug. It is clean, tart from fresh lemon juice and refreshing.
What, if any, resolutions have you made this year? Last year, I completed my first half Ironman Triathlon which I was very proud of. I’d like to continue doing a few events like this in 2020, but maybe sprint or Olympic distances with one long one. Signing up for these events forces me to have put some time in for exercising, which I find is really beneficial for myself, my family and my team.
Executive Chef and Co-Owner at Chao Krung
How do you stay health-conscious when surrounded by food? I try to stay active, play beach volleyball three times a week, yoga and gym if I can fit it in.
What’s a good tip for healthy home cooking? Use fresh ingredients. I take advantage of using healthy products for my home cooking and less seasoning. Try to eat as clean as possible when cooking at home.
What’s a good, healthy item from your menu? Almost 50% of our menu is healthy. Our soups — tom kha, tom yum. Salads — papaya and mango salad. Fresh spring rolls; our charcoal grill is all healthy as well.
What, if any, resolutions have you made this year? Healthy living and happy eating.
Chef at Castaway
How do you stay health-conscious when surrounded by food? Honestly, I spit out a lot of food that I taste. My old chef used to do that too. To snack, I eat almonds or hazelnuts. I try to hit the gym at least three times a week. I just joined BRICK and do these intense cardio classes. They are great stress relief.
What’s a good tip for healthy home cooking? I cook a lot of grains at home and utilize coconut oil. I try to go protein and plant-heavy and I watch my carb and gluten intake. I also eat a ton of prepackaged salads and add chicken or salmon.
What’s a good, healthy item from your menu? I love our grilled broccoli with chimichurri. It’s vegan and very flavorful. Also, I like the grass-fed, 6-ounce filet from Cape Grim or the Ora King Salmon. A lot of good fats.
What, if any, resolutions have you made this year? My resolution is to work less — not going so well so far.
Culinary Director at MIXT
How do you stay health-conscious when surrounded by food? It helps to surround yourself with fresh produce and healthy choices. At MIXT, I eat a salad daily and even if I throw in something indulgent like crispy bacon, eating a mostly plant-based diet keeps me on track. The key to making eating better a habit is to surround yourself with fresh produce and additions that make it delicious and crave-worthy for you like nuts, a tasty dressing or toasty croutons.
What’s a good tip for healthy home cooking? I love to roast vegetables. I like to toss seasonal veggies in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them on high heat (400 F – 450 F) which gives the veggies nice caramelized edges that enhance their flavor and natural sweetness so much. Works great on broccoli and cauliflower as well as a combo of Brussels sprouts, quartered cremini mushrooms and whole garlic cloves in their skins. If you are bored of steamed veggies, this will wake up your palate!
What’s a good, healthy item from your menu? MIXT’s Beetnik salad is healthy, crave-worthy and incredibly satisfying. It features MIXT greens, arugula, roasted golden beets, avocado, goat cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, shaved fennel, savory herbs and a balsamic vinaigrette.
What, if any, resolutions have you made this year? Run. I love running but want to be consistent with three times per week runs and making sure I take my black lab Penny on a trail run every weekend. I’m thinking that plus my daily salads will make me super healthy this year!
Executive Chef at Café Gratitude
How do you stay health-conscious when surrounded by food? While I may have an advantage staying health-conscious as the executive chef of an organic, vegan restaurant, there are definitely a few techniques I have to keep in mind when trying to maintain my health goals.
1. Keep it simple. Like many chefs, I feel like my palate needs a break when I’m not working. I try to eat only whole foods, lightly cooked or even raw to maintain the greatest nutrient-density.
2. Don’t graze. This is a downfall for many chefs. It is so easy to be constantly tasting and grazing as a chef and that all adds up day after day, week after week.
3. Food is not the enemy. I try to never categorize foods as “bad” or “good” or break foods down into micronutrients.
What’s a good tip for healthy home cooking? As a healthy home cook, I would affirm the same points that I have previously made but also add in a few considerations: Variety is the key. Although many people tend to eat the same “favorite five” meals every week, it is still a good idea to mix it up. Switch out your usual kale for spinach, use garnet yams instead of Yukon Golds. All of these foods are good, but nutritionally our bodies need variety for optimum health.
Also, stick primarily with whole foods. Nature has created the perfect balance of micronutrients in all plant foods. All you have to do is eat them as close to their original form as possible and you will be getting the best food available.
Finally, try to stay away from overt fats like oils. Not necessary and only full of empty calories. Steaming, baking and water sautes are simple ways to prepare food. Whole fats like avocados and nuts and seeds are a better choice.
What’s a good, healthy item from your menu? I would say that the healthiest dish we have on the Cafe Gratitude menu is also our perennial top seller — the I Am Whole Macrobiotic Bowl. Brown rice, black beans, sea palm, yams, garlic tahini sauce. It is a nutritional powerhouse and delicious all at the same time.
What, if any, resolutions have you made this year? Aside from maintaining my whole food, plant-based diet, my resolution this year is to deepen my zen meditation practice.
Executive Chef at Soprano
How do you stay health-conscious when surrounded by food? Throughout lunch and dinner service, I find myself tasting dishes at the pass so for the most part, I don’t really find myself that hungry at the end of the night.
What’s a good tip for healthy home cooking? Invest in a steamer and learn how to use it. I received a steamer as a gift one year. I found it really easy to use and clean. Steamers are extremely versatile, cooking anything from dumplings to whole steamed fish. They also are extremely efficient.
What’s a good, healthy item from your menu? Currently, we have a whole grilled seabass served with arugula.
What, if any, resolutions have you made this year? Try to be a better human. Love more, care more and try and help the less fortunate in the world.
Chef at Inko Nito
How do you stay health-conscious when surrounded by food? The idea of being healthy does not mean you can’t eat good food, so what I try to do is pick the best products available and dive in so I don’t have any regrets about how much I eat in the kitchen.
What’s a good tip for healthy home cooking? Avoid using oil or butter when pan-frying. Instead, just get a nonstick pan so you can use less than half of the amount of oil or butter for your favorite pan-fried dish.
What’s a good, healthy item from your menu? We offer an avocado and quinoa salad with apple and wasabi dressing.
What, if any, resolutions have you made this year? Add less butter to my daily toast.
Chef de Cuisine at Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant
How do you stay health-conscious when surrounded by so much food? It’s a daily challenge, especially in a restaurant with an in-house butcher shop where charcuterie is always around. But you just have to stick to a plan and be committed. And in moderation, everything is OK, particularly when it is high quality and made with thoughtfully sourced ingredients.
What’s a good tip for healthy home cooking? When cooking at home I suggest keeping it clean and simple. Let the food and ingredients shine without treating them too much. If you’re working with peak-of-season products, you don’t have to add extra fat to make it taste good.
What’s a good, healthy item from your menu? Gwen’s Market Salad. It’s packed with the freshest market lettuce, seasonal fruits, veggies and a beautiful fennel and pistachio vinaigrette. We also have seafood offerings such as striped bass and Tasmanian trout tartare with trout roe that are on both our dinner and lunch menus.
What, if any, resolutions have you made this year? Great question! I’ve never actually made a New Year’s resolution up until this year. In 2020, I’m looking forward to getting healthier, traveling more and building a stronger relationship with the community around the restaurant. We’re located in Hollywood and it’s been exciting to see how the neighborhood has evolved since we opened here.
Executive Chef at Prank Bar
How do you stay health-conscious when surrounded by so much food? It is very difficult to stay healthy, especially when you have all the delicious options that Prank has. With that being said, truly the decision is up to me to stay healthy. We do have healthy options. My go-to is usually the vegan tacos. They are very delicious and balanced.
What’s a good tip for healthy home cooking? The first thing would be to get your ingredients that are healthy, have it be veggies, lean meats or vegan substitution. The main thing people need to change is the carb intake. Carbs are slightly harder for our bodies to break down. Luckily, there are many ways to substitute carbs with healthy grains and veggies.
What’s a good, healthy item from your menu? We have a few healthy options, but the one I consider healthiest is the poke because of its freshness. It has the element of protein, the veggies/fruit, ponzu and a small portion of black rice that complement each other very well.
What, if any, resolutions have you made this year? As far as a resolution, I would love to be the best at what I love to do, which is cooking but also balance that by spending more time with my family.