“Some still think that spa cuisine is about deprivation,” he says. “They come to Canyon Ranch and are surprised by foods on the menu like ice cream and warm chocolate cake. We’re like any restaurant, but we do everything in a healthy manner.”
Nourish by Scott Uehlein
and Canyon Ranch
After training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Uehlein was selected to study under famed French chef Madeleine Kamman at the Beringer Vineyard’s School for American Chefs in Napa, California, a finishing program for a small, hand-picked group of chefs.
This prestigious education shaped his understanding of food and technique, which enabled him to construct a spa cuisine as notable for its flavor as for its healthy properties. For Uehlein, food is about balance. Even his weakness for French fries is matched by his weakness for the spiciest, freshest arugula he can find.
These days, he’s as much an educator as he is a cook, having penned both of Canyon Ranch’s bestselling cookbooks – Nourish and Canyon Ranch Cooks – and making television and speaking appearances to spread the word that eating and cooking healthy shouldn’t be bland and restrictive. We asked him about his thoughts on the American diet, healthy living, and what he’s learned at Canyon Ranch.
TTB – What wellness principles do you live by?
Chef Uehlein – When not working, I try to make decisions that lead to optimal health and wellness. We eat in a healthy manner at home by selecting plenty of fruits and vegetables and using healthy oils and fats. I will confess that my portion size at home is a little larger than what we serve at work – so it’s a good thing that I also like to exercise.
TTB – If you could introduce one ingredient or food to the mainstream American diet, what would it be and why?
Chef Uehlein – Passion ... like love ... is a key ingredient when you cook. You can tell when it’s missing from what you are eating. Food tastes amazing once you take the time to think about where it comes from and what you’re serving yourself and your family. Passion and love when cooking will translate into cooking more at home, which naturally leads to a healthier diet with less sodium, less processed food and more family interaction around the table.
TTB – What's the first lesson you teach people when it comes to healthful cooking?
Chef Uehlein – Keep it simple and shop your local farmer’s market – you can do next to nothing with the vegetables purchased there because they’re fresh and flavorful. You won’t need much more for a delicious and healthy meal beyond a quick, simple main like grilled fish.
TTB – What do you view as the biggest obstacle to eating well?
Chef Uehlein – Convenience foods! I know they sure are quick, easy and sometimes even tasty, but the problem is that they are often highly processed. So if you’re going to go there, become a label reader and understand what you are eating to help make better choices.
TTB – What dish makes the most appearances on your dinner table?
Chef Uehlein – My wife Pam makes this roasted zucchini we must eat a couple times a week – diced zucchini, tossed with minced garlic, sea salt, olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper, and then roasted until caramelized. We make this dish more than just about anything – it works both as a side and the star of the show when tossed with pasta. Sometimes she’ll cut up tomatoes and roast them with the zucchini. They taste like little candy bombs.
TTB – What would be served at your last meal?
Chef Uehlein – Grilled Lamb Chops, Southern-Style Braised Turnip Greens, my wife's
Potato Salad, and for dessert, my Grandmother's Apricot Tart.
TTB – What is the most important lesson you've learned from your time at Canyon Ranch?
Chef Uehlein – Diets don't work. Eat all things in moderation and don't deprive yourself. Funny, Julia Child taught Americans that in the 1960s!