There’s a reason why our Destination sections include detailed info about both What to Eat and How to Burn It Off: For all the fried chicken and rich curries and regional hot dogs we feature on these pages as EYW founders, Scott and I are generally healthy eaters and regular exercisers who’ve learned to indulge in moderation. Turns out we might have taken a cue from a renowned chef or two, as nobody knows the good food–good health balancing act quite as intimately as one who cooks and eats and tastes for a living—and still manages to keep fit. Such is the topic of a new book by journalist Allison Adato, Smart Chefs Stay Slim.
Allison interviewed more than three dozen top chefs for their best tips on eating healthfully while juggling busy lifestyles—work, family, travel— and celebrating a deep passion for food. Below, she offers some of the travel-specific advice she gleaned from her research. Share your own tips in the comment fields for a chance to win her book!
Eating Well With Chefs on the Go
Travel is a great opportunity to eat well. But it’s also, unfortunately, an opportunity to eat poorly: There are long flights marked by boredom munching; delays in airports that now resemble shopping-mall food courts; hotel breakfast buffets that, while convenient, are rarely a reason to write home.
Because chefs are so often on the move, when I spoke to some three dozen of them for my book Smart Chefs Stay Slim, I wanted to know how they rise to these challenges. “As a chef, I spend a lot of time in the airport,” said Marcus Samuelsson of Harlem’s Red Rooster. “It’s the hardest thing in the world.” Here, some of their best ideas for eating well in transit:
* Eat before you go. You’re more in control of your food options outside of an airport. I interviewed the ultra-peripatetic Alain Ducasse just before he was leaving New York for St. Petersburg, Russia, and he had just been to Marea for a meal that would see him through the journey. If he does get hungry mid-flight, he usually takes some healthy snacks, like vegetables or homemade muesli, packed by his wife. “She doesn’t think I need dessert!” he says. When he lands he favors a meal with protein to help his body acclimate.
* Start the day away from your hotel. “Hotel breakfast is all sausage and bacon and eggs—it’s not my cup of tea,” said Simpson Wong of Wong in Greenwich Village, NYC. “I go to the market and walk around and eat whatever they have to offer. I go to see the old ladies selling vegetables—it’s a fun thing. I’m not interested in toast with butter.” Chef Nate Appleman, who went from being overweight to running marathons, uses his daily run to check out dining options for later in the day. “I’ll see different parts of cities,” he said. “I’ll get lost; that’s a good way to travel.”
* Eat like a local—but don’t leave your good judgment at home. “In France, in Italy, in parts of China, you don’t find heavy people, because they have great food,” said Chicago chef Rick Bayless. “They eat, typically, with a little bit more patience. They don’t have to gobble food thinking that they are never going to get another great meal—they are!” At the same time, don’t assume that everything in a country known for a healthy cuisine can be eaten with abandon. Said Toronto’s Susur Lee: “There’s a Beijing dish that is fish ‘swimming’ in oil. It’s not what Western people are used to, and if you eat it with a fork, you’ll get all the oil.” Instead, enjoy it as natives do, with chopsticks, tapping off excess oil. Likewise in Italy, you don’t need to have four courses simply because that’s what’s “done.” When in Rome, you can still eat to your own hunger cues.
About the author: Allison Adato is a senior editor at People magazine and the author of Smart Chefs Stay Slim: Lessons in Eating and Living from America’s Best Chefs, now out in paperback.You can find her at twitter.com/editgirlnyc and smart-chefs.com.
Time to win a copy of this book! Here’s how:
1. Tell us in the comment fields below how YOU balance eating for indulgence and health, and stay fit, while traveling. Do you skip taxis and walk whenever possible? Swear by a salad a day? Pack nutritious local snacks for flights?
2. The writer of our favorite response wins!
3. Note: The winner must have a U.S. mailing address.
4. This giveaway ends in one week, on Thursday, January 24, 2013.
January 25th update! Winner announced: Difficult choice—we really liked, and totally agree, with many of these suggestions!—but the winner we have picked is Carolsue. We like her idea of starting days off with a healthy homemade breakfast (even in a microwave!) and love that she will stick to the local cuisine with maybe just a few modifications, like cutting out some of the excess carbs. Congratulations, Carolsue!
Thank you to all who participated, and stay tuned for more giveaways like this in the future.