Bikini Chef Susan Irby shares easy recipe alterations that will make your restaurant experience healthier.
Chef Susan Irby:
If I have a friend who is intimidated about making changes to the menu items at a restaurant, you know what, from a chef’s perspective, okay contrary to a lot of the movies that you see where the chef goes ballistic if you make a change, a lot of chefs are honored actually to be able to present something to you that’s new and different and want you to love it.
So, it may not be true of all chefs and maybe you don’t want to ask for something completely off the menu if it’s 12:30 noon lunch and there is a line waiting out the door. That might not be the best time, but you can still ask for modifications on a menu.
So let’s say that you go to a restaurant and they have breaded chicken, panko-crusted chicken breast with a red pepper remoulade. Most remoulades at a restaurant is going to be made with high fat mayonnaise or if it’s made from scratch it would be made with eggs and oil and usually some kind of cream mayonnaise and then the breading, the panko-crusted chicken. So a lot of times they will bake that, but a lot of times they will also lightly fry it.
So what you can do is instead of changing the whole menu item just say, “Can I have just that chicken breast simply grilled,” because they’ve got chicken in the kitchen, know that. They have these ingredients already in the kitchen. Even if they have some already breaded and pre-prepared chances are they have some that aren’t already breaded. So order it grilled and order the sauce on the side. Say, “Can I please have my remoulade on the side”, and let’s say that it comes with cream spinach. Substitute that out for something else – grilled vegetables.
Chefs in any decent restaurant and at all levels, we are talking average restaurants to high-end restaurants, are going to have fresh vegetables in the kitchen now a days. It’s almost absolutely a requirement. It’s no problem for them to dice up and grill up or sauté some vegetables for you. So don’t be intimidated by that. Let them know. You don’t have to be rude about it. Be nice, say, “You know, I really, I just want to strive to eat more healthy,” or, “You know, this sounds delicious and I am sure it’s great, but I’d really prefer it; do you think they can grill it for me?” And just ask in a nice way. They are happy to do it. Nine times out of ten, in fact I would say ten times out of ten.
About Chef Susan Irby:
With her mother’s teachings in her heart, Susan’s passion for cooking took hold. Soon, Susan began working in premiere International restaurants under Master Chefs in Florence, Italy and France. Returning to the United States, Chef Susan began teaching cooking classes for gourmet markets and culinary schools such as Gelson’s, Whole Foods, Chef’s Inc, and Sur La Table as well as preparing dishes for the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs Organization, Young President’s Organization, World President’s Organization, Bloomingdales, Los Angeles Unified School District Nutrition in the Schools program, and Saddleback Valley College, among others.