by Randl Rupar
Professional chefs, like French culinary master Michel Stroot, lead
the way to healthful prepared foods that please even the most discerning
[Editor's note: Randl Rupar's true passion in life, his vocation
and advocation, is health and healthy foods. For the past 25 years, he has
been dedicated to educating himself - and others - about the value of a
healthy diet. Mr. Rupar has taught food and nutrition awareness classes
at various institutions, including the University for Humanistic Studies
and the International School of Professional Bodywork. He is the owner and
operator of Real Meals on Wheels, a catering truck that delivers delicious,
healthy food instead of the typical "roach coach" fare. Recently,
he has been working with the Carlsbad Unified School District to bring healthful
meals to students. He is currently writing a book advocating the lifestyle
of eating soundly, breathing rythmically and living compassionately.]
ave you ever considered the significant role a chef
plays in your own personal well-being? In addition to learning the skills
of culinary magic, chefs are starting to seek creative methods of preparing
This has not always been the case. Chefs educated in
the orthodox schools of culinary arts have not been required to study nutrition.
(Unfortunately, this also applies to medical schools, where doctors have
not been required to learn the preventive aspects of diet, nutrition and
the relationship to degenerative disease). Slick marketing techniques by
the processed food industry have directed attention away from what is delicious
and healthful to what is convenient.
Fortunately, the public mindset has started shifting
from a model of illness and disease to one of wellness and self-responsibility.
This shift has catalyzed a renaissance in food, diet and self-healing, inspiring
chefs to develop delicious foods that are also good for you. A growing availability
of locally-grown, pesticide-free foods supports gourmet taste balanced with
healthful choices. Healthy food isn't just bland-tasting cardboard and rough
grains; it's alive and tastefully invigorating. You can have your cake and
eat it, too!
Master chef Stroot
On November 10, health-minded gourmet chefs in San Diego
will gather to participate in the signing of the Chefs Collaborative 2000
Charter [see article on page 7]. This watershed event will be hosted by
Michel Stroot, French culinary master and head chef of the acclaimed Golden
Door Health Spa. I recently spoke with chef Stroot, and I think his words
typify the position of many forward-thinking chefs:
RR: How long have you been a professional chef?
MS: In 1957 I began three years of training at Hotel School in Brussels,
RR: Were you as food conscious then as you are now?
MS: I was intrigued with food preparation, yet was not aware of the
connection between diet and well-being. Twenty years ago, when I started
at the Golden Door, my diet was that of the typical French gourmet: red
meat, heavy sauces, liquor, beer and wine. I didn't know what I was doing,
but I began a different dietary approach. I experienced an immediate shift
in energy level. From then on, I have followed this way of life.
RR: Your current position as head chef at The Golden Door Health
Spa affords you the freedom to create healthful gourmet foods. What suggestions
can you offer to other gourmet chefs within the restaurant community who
wish to become more health conscious?
MS: A chef with skills understands flavor, texture and eye appeal.
A chef needs to analyze a recipe. Proper balance of carbohydrates - including
pasta, whole grains, sweet potatoes, etc. - with proteins and fats is necessary.
Eliminate red meats and reduce as much meat and dairy products as possible.
The process of weaning out the use of animal products takes place over a
period of time.
RR: The Chefs Collaborative 2000 Charter signals a major shift in
a chef's previous duties of preparing eye-appealing and taste-satiating
foods without consideration of nutritional value. How do you see this transition
MS: We chefs are at the helm of making this transition possible.
Our curiosity with what is available seasonally, locally and organically
will be to our advantage. Everyone knows fresh foods make more appealing
and tasty meals. We can make our guests and customers surprised and interested
in our foods. This process is done gradually and subtly, to make sure anyone
we serve is not feeling deprived.
RR: What effect do you think the Fall Health Classics event - the
signing of the charter, the experience of the gourmet vegetarian dinner
and the presentation by John Robbins - will have?
MS: Most of the people who attend this event will believe and want
to conform. It is important to bring in new converts, new chefs and new
talent into the [Health Classics] organization.
RR: Do you believe that this food renaissance is transforming the
way we view the role of chefs in our health as well as our culinary enjoyment?
Is it here to stay?
MS: Yes. It is just a matter of time - it takes several years. Most
will come to understand by economics. They will learn that diets high in
animal fat and protein makes them ill; that a diet abundant with fresh vegetables,
grains and legumes keeps them healthy. The adverse effects of an improper
diet has tremendous costs regarding health care, and people will not be
able to afford it.
With leadership from chefs like Michel Stroot, we can
all look forward to a healthier - and tastier - future.
Randl Rupar lives with his mate in Oceanside, California , where he
counsels, gardens and surfs.