"Ordering. One Roasted Asparagus Parmesan. One Halibut with Pepper Salsa. Two Bistro Chicken and Garlic. How´s my Chopped Salmon Salad coming for table 23?" Sounds good doesn´t it. Read on.
March is menu month. Its time to begin thinking of changing from the comfort foods of winter to the lighter fare of spring. It´s time to help those victims of cabin fever, light deprivation, and mounds of mashed potatoes and bring them back to the culinary reality that although as comforting as those foods are, they play a different roll in life.
"Javier, I need my Jerk London Broil. NOW. Pretty please." Another great dish… I must confess, however, I didn´t come up with these fabulous recipes with the palate tantalizing names and flavors.
Dr. Connie Guttersen did, in her new book, The Sonoma Diet. Hey. Get back here. Read the rest of this. Don´t fear this diet book.
After interviewing Guttersen this week, and reading her book, I want to go on record as naming the book the recipe bible for chef´s and restaurant owners. Don´t let the word diet scare you. None of those little hearts, here. You don´t have to get rid of the bread basket. And, you don´t have to even mention the food as dietary.
The reference to the word diet in the recently released book defines the quality of what we eat and the amount and combination that we eat. And, it is burning up the bookstore shelves as fast as it is calories, for those who take to the lifestyle it promotes.
As a Culinary Institute of America nutritionist, Guttersen, champions the healthy foods of Sonoma County throughout the book, educating the reader about the flavors, tastes, and portions needed for a thinner, healthier life. And, it will become a staple on every chef´s bookshelf.
Think about it. Nutrition that is. You´re in the food business. But all you know about nutrition is how bad Big Macs are. Seldom is nutrition the topic of any chef´s meeting.
But a diet book for guidance? Absolutely. When Michael Morse, owner of Un Deux Trois in Minneapolis had a parting of the ways with celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern, a decade ago, I asked him who was going to replace Zimmer. Morse, in his sarcastically comical tone said "I need two guys to replace Andrew. I got Barnes and Noble." Ironically, if The Sonoma Diet book was published in 1995 it would have been on Morse´s desk, on top of the other twenty books he purchased and meticulously studied.
The Sonoma Diet is a quick-read capsulation of what everyone should be eating. And, after interviewing Guttersen, her passion for food and nutrition is apparent, her excitement about the recipes within the book, extraordinary.
Now don´t misconstrued. I am not saying to change your menu into a dieter´s delight. God forbid. The failures of the little hearts next to the light grilled cheese sandwich ended that. Remember " The Lighter Side" of the menu promotion. Customers would order from that section in a whisper so nobody in the packed dining room would notice their obesity.
No, this book isn´t about deprivation of food. It is a book that designs meals so with healthy living in mind so that food and weight loss weight can be an enjoyable combination. As a matter of fact, Guttersen stresses culinary enjoyment, drinking wine, and eating fruit. She also uses what she calls her ten power foods as the catalyst to lift-off.
Pierre, your celebrity chef, will be pleased to know that olive oil is one of those power foods.
The book´s benefits to restaurant owners are as abundant as the recipes within it´s cover. And, chefs won´t need calculators to figure out the caloric lore of its pages. There are none. It´s all done on a nine inch plate by portion control. Think of that. Portion control in your kitchen. A new concept. Guttersen promotes slow, healthy eating, in moderation. She is an advocate of the nine inch plate.
That´s a plus for restaurant owners across the country. For years, the portion war has been fought on numerous fronts. The days of the Claim Jumper´s salad trough, where plates are piled high and the Cheesecake Factory´s wheel barrel sized portions may be slimming down.
As restaurant owner´s, we struggle daily, attempting to provide the public with what we think they want. Seldom though, do we ever think of the nutritional value of what we serve. Guttersen is making it easier for chefs and owners to fulfill that responsibility. At the CIA, chefs are now being taught the importance of nutrition on a level they can understand. And, although the complexities of nutrition are frightening, Guttersen´s presentation of nutrition in the book is very subliminal and understandable.
Do yourself, your chef, and your customers a favor. Go buy the book. Read it. Make a few portions of Cioppino Seafood En Papillote that appears on page 221. Then, think about the book. Use it as you do your bible. It´s not something you have to follow daily, but it sets the guiding principles in the right direction.
Don´t worry about promoting the book, or the diet. Guttersen´s marketing company is doing a great job at that. However, when you use the recipes, use the names of the dishes right out of the book. Eventually, people will know where the recipe came from, it will relate to health and you´ll sell the dishes to the Dick and Judy Corson´s of the world. And all those people who want to trade in mashed potatoes and white bread for Wild Mushrooms and Barley Risotto.
Fresh ideas, packed with flavor and palatable names may be just the jump start you need to get those creative juices flowing from the kitchen to the customer´s table.
And then after you get a taste of Sonoma, you can visit, do some research on nutrition, and write it off as menu development.
For more information go to www.sonomadiet.com