"Fresh" is the latest book by the 41-year-old owner of the Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, which critics have praised for its modern American cuisine.
The South Carolina native has also hosted several television food shows. He spoke to Reuters about his passion for healthy eating and the importance of fresh ingredients.
Q: Why did you write a book about fresh food?
A: I started looking at the word fresh and really dived deep into what it means beyond the color and the aroma and the flavor. But also what fresh food does for your body and for the environment. I always see it from a perspective of not depleting the natural resources blindly that are out there but creating alternative food sources, making them trendy in a way where things become more balanced. People are genuinely interested in what they put in their body. I think now it's the time.
Q: What do you want readers to take away from this book?
A: "I want people to be inspired. There is nutritional value in fresh, pure food. There are independent stories about what a super food quail eggs are for mental cognition and how healthy strawberries could be on a cellular level. There are beautiful stories inside the recipes.
Q: How is this book different from others you wrote?
A: "I have written quite a few books that are about dinners for your friends and families. To me, this book is obviously more artistic than what I've done in the past. There is a real pure expression of food and flavor composition ... It's about an adult dinner party and you have friends coming over for the weekend, something cool you could piece together from that. This is the book for that. I have a body of work that speaks of the family dinner. This is a book about amazing flavor compositions that apply more to an adult palate.
Q: There is plenty of information about healthy eating. Why are so many people still not eating better?
A: I think it comes down to habit. I think we are sort of at the dawn of an era of enlightenment ... People are coming up with pinpoint accuracy on what causes aging, obesity and cancer. It's all diet related.
Your body is a machine and needs high quality fuel to operate at a high level. Things that are gooey and gummy and rich are not a long-term strategy. You can't blindly consume calories every day. They taste good for two seconds, but over a period of time, you've put on 50 pounds (22 kg) of weight in five years."
Q: What do you tell families who might not have access or the money to buy fresh food?
A: Your brain is satiated with a level of nutrients. When you eat poor quality food, you need to eat more of it so your brain will click in to say it's full. Technically, (eating healthy) is expensive, but what is more expensive - failing, poor health? I think that's expensive. I think having a work force that can't compete globally because we are dealing with health issues in this country due to poor diet is expensive.
Roasted Apples, Potatoes, and Brussels Sprouts with Whipped Parmesan (Serves 4 to 6)
2 medium Pink Lady or Gala apples
1 pound assorted baby creamer potatoes (Red Bliss, gold, purple)
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
8 to 10 fresh sage leaves
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Make the apples and vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 500 degree Fahrenheit. Set a large cast-iron pan in the oven to get good and hot. Cut each apple into 8 wedges and remove the cores. Cut the potatoes in half, and cut the Brussels sprouts in half through the stem. Remove the pan from the oven and add the olive oil. Add the sage leaves and let them sizzle for 30 to 40 seconds to crisp up the leaves and infuse the oil. Remove the leaves from the oil, drain on paper towels, and set aside for garnish. Add the apples, potatoes, and sprouts to the hot pan, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat everything. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Make the Parmesan whip.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the crème fraîche, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. Whisk them together to aerate and thicken, then refrigerate to chill and firm.
When the vegetables are done, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Dollop spoonfuls of whipped Parmesan crème fraîche on top so it melts over the vegetables and forms a sauce. Garnish with cracked black pepper, the fried sage leaves, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.