"Many top chefs have discovered some surprisingly tasty ways to keep the pounds at bay. [Their] tantalizing suggestions [are] put forth in Smart Chefs Stay Slim, a new book detailing the eating strategies of today’s culinary superstars." -- OPRAH.COM

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Entries in Dine Out Smart (3)


10-Day Smart Tips Countdown: Cheers!

Taking a break from New Year's Eve dinner prep in L.A. to share the last countdown tip of 2012. Since drinks will figure into most people's evening, this is a particularly timely tip from chef Ming Tsai: Along with your alcohol, have some water.

"If I'm out partying, I will drink a full glass of water with every beverage I drink," the Blue Ginger chef and Simply Ming host told me when we spoke for my book.  Doing so creates a pause in which to consider whether you want that second or third drink (and the second and third glass of water that will come with it).

With that, I raise a glass to you, and thank all the people who have been incredibly supportive of Smart Chefs in the past year, and also those who might be considering picking up the paperback edition, out today.

More smart tips, recipes and other ideas to help you keep your resolutions to eat well and stay fit. Happy 2013!

-- Allison





10-Day Smart Tips Countdown: Dine with a Strategy

The two months from Halloween to New Year's can feel like one long meal. (Getting my son a costume is such a small price to pay in exchange for his going out and collecting chocolate for me to enjoy after he goes to bed.)  In between Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's Day there are parties and leftovers and, often, too much muchness.

A good solution is to go into these situations with a strategy. New York restaurateur (and Iron Chef judge) Donatella Arpaia has learned this from experience. "I make a mental plan when it's Christmas and my mom has a 20-course feast with the meatballs and the chicken cutlets," she told me. "I says, 'Okay, what are my most favorite things? I'm going to eat that, and that and that. And that's all.'" The rest, she says, "is a feast for the eyes."

On Iron Chef, she has to at least try a bite of everything. But in real life, we don't have to eat it all -- eat only the food you really love.


Dine out Smart: The Law of Diminishing Returns

Have you ever been presented with a dish so intoxicatingly delicious that you felt you couldn't stop eating it? That you only did stop when it was gone? Think back: Were the last few bites as enchanting as the first few? Thomas Keller would guess not. When we spoke for the Smart Chefs book, the celebrated chef-owner of Per Se and the French Laundry shared an interesting perspective on how much is just enough. photo by Deborah Jones, TKRG

"Our whole menu is based on the law of diminishing returns. The most compelling portion of a dish is in the first three or four bites. With the first bite you're getting into it, by the second bite you start to realize it, and it is at the third or fourth bites you get the maximum appreciation and pleasure from that dish...and you keep eating because of that memory of it being really extraordinary. But was it as good [at the end] as it was at that second, third or fourth bite? No."

His solution? Smaller portions. Don't allow yourself to keep eating and eating trying to recapture that early blush of pleasure. The time to stop is when you still are so excited by a dish that you want a little more. Keller has long served a signature salmon cornet canapé, and people often ask for a second one after they have demolished the first delicate cone studded with black sesame seeds and filled with sweet red onion crème fraîche and salmon tartare. Sorry, folks, no more cornets for you. "No," says Keller. "It's a matter of finishing a dish at the height of flavor impact." Of course, at that moment he's sending out another small enchantment. salmon cornets. photo by Deborah Jones, TKRG

I try to remember this when I'm getting over enthusiastic about a restaurant meal. But it also works at home, though there you need to be even more disciplined. You need to be both the consumer in want of that second helping, and you have to be your own Chef Keller, and politely tell yourself: No. Sometimes I have to remind myself that, he's right, I'm just chasing the memory of that initial yum. Better to have less, savor more.