What is a Holistic Chef?

Essential food ingredients don't change much, but the way you approach food just might. In today's kitchens, there is a growing movement toward healthy eating. This trend extends beyond home kitchens and those seeking to lose a few pounds and into commercial kitchens everywhere. Healthy eating does not start and stop with home cooked meals. It encompasses allergy-sensitive meal preparation, whole foods and a better understanding of nutrition. At the forefront of this kitchen movement is a new breed of culinary expert, holistic chefs.

What is a Holistic Chef?

In a holistic kitchen, “You are what you eat” is not just a saying—it’s a way of life. What you eat impacts every area of your health, both mental and physical. Holistic chefs focus on creating meals that taste delicious and provide maximum nutritional benefit. That means a move away from pre-prepared foods, less saturated fat, less refined sugar and a more responsible approach to allergen-free meals. A holistic chef is a culinary expert that cooks meals with the whole body in mind. Nutrition is a foremost consideration.

A Look at Holistic Plates

Meals coming out of a holistic kitchen look different from many of the plates you might see at a chain restaurant. Expect to see a lot more vegetables versus grains or starches as one significant change. Imaginative preparations help vegetables take a starring role in a healthy diet. Grains still make an appearance, but you might find yourself tasting a lot more than just wheat, corn or rice. Quinoa, barley, buckwheat and freekeh all get added to the list of healthy and tasty grains. freekeh

Seasonal cooking is another big part of holistic cooking. Food is most nutrient rich when it is harvested during the prime growing season. As things fall out season, preservation methods leach out a lot of the benefits. Perishable foods are best when eaten fresh, which, along with eating whole foods, is a big part of the holistic culinary movement.

What are Whole Foods?

The whole foods movement can be a bit confusing for those new to the idea. It doesn't mean you have to eat all food as it came off the vine. It does mean you should be looking for food items with the least amount of processing and added ingredients. If you are eating applesauce, there is no reason for it to contain any added fat. It also doesn't need chemical preservatives or other additives to change the color or texture. Holistic chefs bring this concept into the commercial kitchen.

holistic food

Where many chain restaurants manufacture their soup at one processing facility and ship it frozen around the country, a holistic chef will make it onsite and with locally sourced, fresh ingredients. Did you know that many restaurants add butter to ground beef for their burgers? They don't add it as a topping. Instead, they grind it in with the meat before forming the patty. This practice might make a moist burger, but it also adds a fair amount of fat. Holistic cooking is all about knowing what's going into your body. When you look at a plate created by a holistic chef, what you see is what you get. There are no hidden chemical ingredients and no preservatives. Even healthy fats are used sparingly, as needed.

Cooking Around Allergies

A standard commercial kitchen might be prepared to deal with basic allergy requests, but few have the facilities to deal with highly sensitive diners. For example, some peanut allergies are so sensitive that even trace amounts could have a diner reaching for an Epi-pen. Celiacs can not eat food prepared on the same cookware that is used for other wheat products. Restaurants that cater to an actual gluten-free customer need to have a set of pots and pans specifically for gluten-free orders. Avoiding cross-contamination and learning about different allergies allows holistic chefs to prepare food for virtually any palate. 

Great program, I've learned a lot about becoming a Chef. Now that I'm in my last term I realize how much I've learned....

Posted by Jamar Bailey on Thursday, September 17, 2015


Become a Holistic Chef

If you believe health and wellness go hand in hand with a love of cooking, you might want to consider a career as a holistic chef. ECPI University offers a range of culinary arts programs, including the new Associates of Science in Culinary Arts and Applied Nutrition. In as little as 15 months, you could start a new career creating food that looks great, tastes delicious and provides healthy fuel for the body. It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!

Learn more about ECPI's College of Culinary Arts TODAY!

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