So many personal chefs have clients with special dietary needs. It may be food allergies, pregnancy, weight loss, or athletic training. Or it could be heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or other medical conditions. We have always suggested that personal chefs work in partnership with nutritionists and dietitians to support a specific medical challenge. It’s a relationship that provides better care and service to the patient/client, and makes both the personal chef and nutritional advisor more valuable an asset. And, in turn, these relationships can also help the nutritionists, who may have clients who need meal support and would have a good referral for them. 

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Linn Steward, RDN, runs Gourmet Metrics in New York. She’s been active on our Facebook page and I’ve seen how passionate she is about healthful eating. So I asked her if she’d discuss this collaboration on à la minute. She’ll contribute a second piece soon on the nuts and bolts on how that collaboration would work from her perspective.  

Friendly collaboration between dietitian and personal chefs has long been a great partnership. Not only have personal chefs always been concerned with the health and well-being of their clients, many of them started out as nutritionists and dieticians, so they come with that commitment to wellness.This focus on healthy eating has intensified, as personal chefs well know. Clients today are more interested in eating healthier and are asking for more fresh foods, more grilled foods, and more vegetables. Chefs today are more interested in creating healthier menus and sourcing healthier ingredients. RDNs today are more food savvy and more appreciative that delicious is just as important as nutritious.So for those personal chefs who come into the profession with a culinary background but not a health care background—and are now finding that clients are coming to them with health issues, this is the time to find a nutrition partner who can help you go beyond the doctor’s suggested list of ingredients and help you develop meals that your clients will not just enjoy but will aid them on their journey to good health.

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So what are today’s options for friendly collaboration between the personal chef and the RDN?

The most important area to consider is the special needs community. Those are the folks with high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, allergies, or any other condition that requires medical supervision.
Not every client will have special needs, but for those who do, adherence and accuracy are really important if the person is under the care of a doctor. Those of you who already work with RDNs know we bring both tools and training to the table and are especially well qualified to help personal chefs verify that what they are cooking is really meeting the therapeutic need of their clients with as little loss of taste and flavor as possible given the set of restrictions.

Friendly collaboration has been effective in foodservice in the areas of sodium reduction, getting more fruits and vegetables on the plate, replacing refined grains with whole grains, and what is best described as strategic calorie design. Getting people to make healthier choices before they get sick is always the best way to eat healthier.

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This proactive approach is well suited to personal chefs who cook for families or for certain epicurean clients. RDNs are well qualified to help chefs with healthy menu and recipe development and to recommend those small, realistic changes that can lead to significant impact. We can also help the personal chef separate food fashion buzz from healthy food facts.    

Another area for friendly collaboration is sports nutrition. Guys or gals who want to bulk up but don’t like to cook. Off-season athletes. Folks who have mastered the exercise component but still need to lose a couple of pounds. Definitely another possible area of mutually beneficial collaboration for both chef and RDN.

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Friendly collaboration between personal chef and RDN is not in its infancy but it can be elevated as chefs learn more about nutrition and RDNs learn more about how to make the most out of great flavor. We both bring different skills and food philosophies to the kitchen but it’s precisely this synergy that can lead to innovative solutions.

It’s not necessary to ask people to choose between good health and great taste today. Both are possible and both can co-exist on the same plate.

Linn Steward is a registered dietician based in New York City, who operates Gourmet Metrics. She loves food, cooking, eating, and feeding people. About 20 years ago, however, she went back to school to study nutrition. She honed her professional skills doing clinical nutrition and wellness counseling, but her heart never left the kitchen. She is here to help chefs, cooks and eaters find a way to put nutritious and delicious on the same plate. Services include menu and ingredient review, recipe development, strategic calorie design, sodium reduction, allergen tags, and therapeutic diet audits. The way she sees things, if the folks don’t like the food, it doesn’t matter how nutritious it is. You can reach Linn at linn@gourmet-metrics.com or her Facebook page.

Do you have clients with special health/nutrition needs? How challenging is it for you to develop appropriate recipes that you know for a fact are meeting these needs?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

Photos courtesy of Linn Steward.

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Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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