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The role of chefs has changed drastically over time, with the food world closely following. Chefs used to be background people. Customers would go to a fancy restaurant and have no idea who was cooking their food. That is not the case anymore. People now go to eat at restaurants that were written up for having an incredible chef. Today chefs' jobs usually go beyond the kitchen and into the public eye. Most influential chefs have starred on cooking shows, published books, and are social media stars and philanthropists.
New food fads come with the celebrity chefs who changed how we see food. Most chefs now-a-days are a part of the health craze, and dedicate their careers to finding substitutes so that you don’t have to give up your guilty pleasures. Whether or not these healthy replacements taste like the real, good food is up to you to decide. Oftentimes, these chefs make it their goal to make the country a healthier place for kids to grow up in and adults to live in. Some chefs will go as deep into the process as watching their organic vegetables grow, focusing on the best way to scientifically cook food. These new innovative chefs each have their own creative way to make themselves stand out.
Eating healthy has been taken to a whole new level nowadays. I don’t know about you, but when I go to my grandparents' house, they are always stocked with all different types of croissants, cakes, and cookies. These are items that you can almost never find in my house. I mean, I have cookies in my house, but only the ones made out of almond butter, carob chips, and oats. People just don’t eat the same way that they used to. That being said, Alice Water was way before her time. In 1971, Waters opened up her first cafe, Chez Panisse, where she needed to build an entire network dedicated to getting her only organic foods. Waters claims that the primary reason she began cooking with only organic products was for the taste, and it being healthier was merely just an added benefit.
Understanding that there needs to be a drastic change in the way that Americans eat, Waters became a spokeswoman for making organic fruits and vegetables more available for the youth. She advocated for schools to provide healthy lunches for students so that they will not fall into the unhealthy eating habits that many Americans already have. Waters dedicated her life to trying to make society a healthier place to live before it was a trend to do so.
Did you know it was possible to change the genetic makeup of seeds and vegetables? Well I didn’t, but Barber sure did. There is a certain expectation when going to restaurants nowadays, that your food will be locally grown or abide by the farm to table laws. This was simply not enough for Barber. He didn’t just care where the food was coming from, but he actually cared about creating a new taste for the roots of the vegetables.
How is it possible to change the taste of a squash without adding other ingredients? Yeah, I also kept asking myself that question. Well Barber began working with plant breeders, saving various seeds and then using them for cross-pollination. Barber has quite literally changed the way that we look at vegetables on the most basic level. I always thought that a squash from the ground would taste like every other squash coming from the ground, but apparently that is not true! He took a regular squash and made it into a honeynut squash without adding any extraneous ingredients. Therefore, from the start, that squash is sweeter. Barber has created numerous “new” tasting vegetables that he uses in his restaurant, as well as the White House.
The iconic TV star, world traveler, and one of the hottest male chefs looked at food as something more than just what you eat, but as the way you live your life. Bourdain’s show was dedicated to traveling the world and really immersing himself into the culture. I, unlike Bourdain, when going on vacation, will do my research into the restaurants with the best reviews and ratings. If I am doing this, I can imagine that most tourists are as well. So in reality, I am not really going to the restaurant that will give me a taste of its unique culture, but rather I am going to the restaurant that attracts the most foreigners.
Ratings, reviews, and presentation did not mean anything to Bourdain. If he saw a ton of locals lined up outside a cafe, that was a good enough tell that he had to eat there. The cafe could be a tiny hole in the wall and their specialty dish could be something he had never heard of or even sounded inedible. That did not phase him. He felt that he did not only get to eat the good and the sweet, but he also had to eat the bitter and bad because that is how life works.
Women should be the ones who stay at home to cook, no? Not according to Jamie Oliver, one of the most famous chefs of all time. Oliver’s show The Naked Chef inspired men that they too can be responsible for cooking dinner. Each episode in The Naked Chef would depict different situations that Oliver would need to cook for. He would make a healthy and appropriate meal for the various people he was serving.
Oliver became quite the philanthropist by funding many charities to help make the world a healthier place. He started by trying to convert schools in the UK from feeding the student’s junk food to giving them a healthy alternative, and later continued this mission in the US. Oliver created a restaurant called Fifteen where he would train troubled kids how to cook, and give them the resources they needed to learn about having a balanced and healthy diet. Oliver realized that he needed to reach out to the young people in order to better society.
SUPERWOMAN! Padma Lakshmi can really do it all. She's an immigrant who started her career by becoming a world famous model, and has since become a food guru, published books on the New York Times best seller list, and is an Emmy award-winning actress. Lakshmi decided to educate herself on finding a healthy diet after she had gained a significant amount of weight and wanted to know the most successful way to lose it. I guess that is one way to rectify that situation. This ultimately led her to become a long time host on the famous TV show, Top Chef.
Lakshmi has an extensive pallet, and wanted to try a ton of new foods when traveling. Although she is superwoman, she still struggled when she began to gain weight. Lakshmi soon realized that her problem was moderation and quality. She would find herself eating vast amounts of foods that were not worth the calories. Top Chef was an awesome way for Lakshmi to taste quality food while having proper portion control; and even better than that, she would get paid for it! Lakshmi looked at food as an opening for her to move up in society.
Science and food? Two words that I never thought I would hear together. Greta Achatz is credited with furthering molecular gastronomy. Molecular gastronomy is the science of studying both the physical and chemical changes that take place when mixing ingredients while cooking. Achatz has opened up one of the most lucrative restaurants in America, Ailena, using what he has discovered in molecular gastronomy.
When going to Ailena, you should not expect to find food that you are familiar or comfortable with. The food may be bitter, but there is something about it that makes you want more. Achatz uses food science in order to ensure that his customers will need to order many courses in order to be filled up. Achatz considers cooking to be a science, and just like scientists want to win the Nobel Peace Prize, he wanted to receive three Michelin stars for his restaurant. Well, he succeeded, and continues to impress America with all of his new discoveries.
Paula Deen, now an American icon, was living a happy life until she wasn’t. When she was facing financial and health problems, Deen turned to food as a last attempt to pull her and her family out of the swamps. That is when the Bag Lady was created, a one woman-run catering company. The Bag Lady can cook a home cooked meal for any occasion. She became hugely successful, and expanded her company into various restaurants across the country.
Despite all the hardships that Dean encountered, she is known to be one of the most charismatic chefs. Dean, although a celebrity chef who isn't actually a chef, looked at food as her only hope to make a new life for herself. A major fear of hers was that if she was not successful with the Bag Lady, then she would not be able to put food on her own table. Dean beat the odds and created a business that surpassed all of her own expectations.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and I mean literally anywhere. Joseph Johnson was sent on a trip to Ghana to cook food for the locals as an act of kindness. Johnson ended up eating the food that the Ghanaians prepared for him. For the first time in his life, he truly understood that food itself has a long history, and is passed down from generation to generation.
Food always had a sentimental value to Johnson, but not to the extent that he felt in Africa. Johnson was set on becoming a chef after watching his grandmother make her famous butternut squash. He did not want the recipe to be forgotten when his grandmother passed away, and he wanted to make it as well as she did. He understood that food, on the surface, was passed down through families, but he didn’t fully grasp that food can be passed down from an entire civilization. After being in Ghana, he was exposed to Afro-Asian cuisine, which originated in the times of slaves and was still what the Ghanaians ate. Johnson brought what he learned in Africa home and opened up several restaurants that followed the Afro-Asian diet.
Did you create a two billion ice cream firm in your house? Yeah, neither did I. Justin Woolverton, the creator of the infamous Halo Top, has surpassed even his wildest dreams with this feat. While struggling to keep his blood sugar levels under control, Woolverton could not seem to eliminate his craving for ice cream. He bought himself an ice cream machine, put in his low sugar greek yogurt mixed with some stevia, and out came something delicious. That was the start to the best-selling pint of ice cream in the United States.
Halo Top has taken on a league of its own. You can eat a pint of ice cream for the same caloric intake as eating one scoop of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream! There are over 35 flavors as they continue to create more. One of the most successful ice cream brands was founded by the fact Woolverton did not want to give up his favorite food. He took action and created Halo Top as a close, but healthier, substitute to satisfy his ice cream cravings.
Gina Homolka is a true Millennial. Homolka used Instagram to create a successful business where she promoted how to live a healthy lifestyle. She created a catchy Instagram handle, Skinnytaste, and posts beautiful pictures of her food to attract followers. Her belief is that you don’t have to give up a taste that you enjoy; but rather, you should eat the healthy alternative for half the calories.
On her blog homepage, Homolka mentions in her recipe key that all her dishes are gluten free, paleo, low carb, dairy-free, kid-friendly, and keto. What ingredients does she actually put in her food? Her food is totally organic and natural. With food, less is more. The less ingredients, the healthier it is for you. Homolka is among many other celebrity chefs who changed how we see food by posting on various social media fronts.