In this episode of the Feel Good Effect – award-winning & trendsetting chef, Gregory Gourdet, is sharing how he went from living hard & fast to embracing a healthier way to live. Plus how he pivoted from an aggressively healthy lifestyle to find a happy, sustainable balance.
Listen to the episode or read the article to learn tips on creating nourishing & delicious recipes at home.
the recipe for modern health with gregory gourdet
Ready to feel more inspired in the kitchen? You won’t wanna miss the tips this two-time Top Chef finalist & guest judge has for home cooks!
“I couldn’t sustain this super restrictive lifestyle that I had the first year…sustainability is the core to eating well.”
meet guest & trendsetting chef: gregory gourdet
When Gregory sat down to write his first cookbook, he wanted to write something that would help people and create a book that people gravitate to, even if they didn’t know who he was.
The story of Gregory creating the book is also a story of him overcoming a seven-year battle with drug abuse, addiction, and alcoholism, moving to Portland, OR, and getting sober. At that point, he really wanted to change his lifestyle – from what he was eating & doing, to how he spent his time, and how he felt everyday.
He jumped into a healthy lifestyle overnight, started going to CrossFit, became an ultrarunner, and went paleo, gave up gluten, dairy, and soy. Since then, he’s tried different things at various intensities and eventually found what’s stuck. Fast forward to today and he’s not as hardcore with it as he was 13 years ago – but most importantly he was able to find a good balance that fit his life. And now has a blueprint for what makes him feel good.
on writing a cookbook for modern health
Gregory is a global chef and he loves studying the history and culture behind cuisine around the world – and you’ll see that reflected in his cookbook. He also wanted to create meals based on superfoods that are easy, healthy, and delicious, interesting using spices from around the world. This all brought him to create Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health.
The cookbook includes 200 recipes focused on the top 100 superfoods. There are chapters on cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, eggs, sustainable seafood, birds, meats, sauces, pickles, fermentation, desserts, and a really complete guide to making everything you need to set your pantry up to make any meal any day of the week. Plus a 25 page pantry, to help you make it all happen.
going all-in & finding balance
Gregory went from one end of managing his health to the other. His parents were very hard-working, academic-achieving role models, instilling their work ethic in him. That work ethic coupled with an addictive personality, led him to seek out a full 180 change in that first year. After a long run of alcohol and drug addiction, he decided he wanted to make some serious lifestyle changes. He started Crossfit and a paleo diet – giving up dairy, gluten, and processed foods – but eating whole foods is what stuck with him the most.
Eventually he found that working out 15 hours a week, running marathons, and eating this way didn’t fit with working long hours & his career. So finding his own balance and embracing that was key to this becoming a true lifestyle.
The recipes in Gregory’s book are inclusive for all diets. It is about finding sustainability, no matter what diets or exercise routines you adhere to. Finding something that works (long term), is delicious, and nutritious.
“you can cook all these recipes and no one will miss anything”
bringing gluten-free & dairy-free options to restaurants
In his role as a chef, Gregory feels like a little bit of an outsider. Being a chef who doesn’t eat butter is very rare!
But all around the world, different cultures and cuisines have dairy-free and gluten-free desserts, especially in southeast Asia where coconut milk is a 1-to-1 replacement for cream. Over the course of years, Gregory and his team have worked to create different flour blends and desserts that create the same textures. It took years of research and eating in that way to get a blueprint of ideas.
Most of the book you could flip through and not even notice that it is allergen-friendly, but there are some places where they specifically go into how to make allergen-friendly substitutions, like making a flour blend, alternative milk. In addition to some more familiar-sounding recipes with an allergen-friendly, global approach, some of the recipes are unique, like fermented pine nuts.
expanding how we think about preparing & eating vegetables
A lot of recipe books start with sections on breakfast or appetizers, but Gregory’s cookbook start with a chapter on vegetables. Part of eating a well-balanced diet is eating more plants. In fact, over half of the recipes in the book are vegan.
When thinking about eating well, Gregory gravitates toward vegetables and protein. In fact, in the cookbook, there are two chapters on plants: cooked vegetables and raw vegetables. These chapters open up a whole new world to that type of cooking and expands how we think about preparing & consuming vegetables. This book will help you step up your plant repertoire, which also happens to be a very sustainable thing for the environment too.
“I love cooking plants. For me plants are one of the most versatile foods. When I design meals I first think of the vegetables – I definitely eat protein but I think eating plants is just as important.”
expanding your home pantry to include new ingredients & new flavors
The book is divided into seasonless recipes with ingredients that you can find in your regular grocery store year round. Peppered within that, are recipes using seasonally available ingredients, like cherries and strawberries.
Gregory lives near Asian markets that have a lot of Caribbean ingredients. Because of his accessibility to those ingredients, Gregory is able to make a lot of Caribbean- and Asian-inspired dishes.
Some ingredients might be harder to find for folks without accessibility to markets like those – like fish sauce, makrut lime leaves and tamarind paste. When possible, Gregory recommends stocking up on those ingredients, as many are dried and others can be frozen. Buying those in bulk and keeping them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them is a great way to have more flavor variety available for your homecooking.
fun zero-proof options in restaurants & at home
As someone who is sober and who likes to go out and dine, to Gregory having more zero-proof options is important for a restaurant menu. There are several reasons people choose to not drink and it’s quite culturally acceptable.
Gregory also loves smoothies (a classic health food) and being able to throw a bunch of vegetables, aromatics, nuts, and spices into a blender and come out with something satisfying, warm, and invigorating to start the day or get a midday perk is important for him. In the cookbooks, there are smoothie recipes that focus on different vegetables or spices, so there’s tons of colorful options in there.
Most of the flavoring in the zero-proof drinks comes from vinegar-based shrubs & Gregory explains to readers how to make their own versions of at home so they can enjoy it too. Taking a homemade shrub base and topping it with soda is one of the most refreshing things you can have.
“you don’t necessarily have to be a recovering alcoholic to not drink. people make decisions not to drink for various reasons”
how to make your meals simpler & more delicious
The book has a pretty big pickles, preserves, sauces, and dressings chapter – which consists of staples you can keep in your fridge. Some include kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, tamarind ketchup, and all sorts of great sides and condiments that you can keep in your fridge for quick, easy access.
Gregory’s advice is to think about the condiments and sauces section of the book, and keep these things in the back of your pantry and fridge so you can easily & quickly spice up any meal.
Sauces can seem intimidating, but in reality, so many of Gregory’s sauce recipes take just a matter of minutes to prepare. The sauces chapter actually came from feedback that the recipes felt too long with the sauces included – so to shorten them, Gregory pulled all the sauces out for their own separate chapter. When you find one you like, make a double recipe and keep it in the fridge or freezer to make your meal routines simpler.
learning more about the world through cooking
Gregory hopes that this is a book people use year-round, that lives on your kitchen table while you cook. There are plenty of straightforward recipes in there in addition to recipes that are likely new for many. If you enjoy cooking, experimenting, and trying new things, Gregory encourages trying out the recipes that present something a little different.
Part of the book explores how certain ingredients and spices made their way across the world. Oftentimes, there are some ugly histories behind the ingredients we love, brought on by slavery & colonization and influenced by immigration & indentured servitude from centuries prior. All of these factors change the cuisine of a specific culture.
It’s important to explore the global flavors and learn more about how our global palette has been formed & why certain dishes exist.
what does it really mean to be healthy?
“For me, being healthy is really about making sustainable choices and eating in a way that makes you feel good… in a world of plants and animals and fruits and vegetables, there are ones that are better that others and it’s truly about focusing on the good ones… just incorporating this into your diet as much as possible and eating as much of it as you want… I encourage everyone to just choose better ingredients and have fun, spice it up, cook it any which way, eat as much of it as you want, share it with family and friends, and that will be a lot easier to digest and keep going”.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, New York, Gregory Gourdet is the child of Haitian immigrants. A self-proclaimed health freak and avid runner, Gourdet views food as a source of nourishment as much as one of pleasure. After graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, he became chef de cuisine for Jean-Georges Vongerichten, under whom he trained for almost seven years. In 2008, Gourdet arrived in Portland, OR. He led the pan-Asian kitchen at Departure for a decade, running one of the busiest restaurants in the state. His annual trips around the world connected him with the flavors and ingredients he loves so much. He is a James Beard Award nominee and a two-time Top Chef finalist as well as an All Star and Guest Judge. He has been named Chef of the Year by Eater and one of the Fittest Chefs in America by Men’s Health. His wood-fired Haitian restaurant Kann will open in Portland, OR, in 2022.
Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health, a cookbook by Gregory Gourdet
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