Lots of hot New York chefs compete to create the best pork buns and fried risotto balls.
But for every cured-meat guru, there’s a white-coat star making vegetables shine.
These fabulous healthy chefs put fresh, seasonal produce, legumes, and whole grains in the center of the plate (and occasionally organic, lean meats). And they maximize flavor, not butter.
“Healthy food, by definition, is full of flavors, vivid on the palate, energizing—and beautiful to behold,” says Peter Berley, one of our picks.
Hunt down our top 10 healthiest chefs in the city and grab a fork. —Lisa Elaine Held
Veggies are her specialty, and her strategy is to only reach for those that excite her.
“I challenge myself to purchase vegetables, grains, and beans that I haven’t tried and then build a meal around them,” she says.
Walter also approaches every ingredient as if she grew and produced it, which, she says, adds an extra does of care to the process of selecting, cutting, and preparing.
Jonas is the genius behind the raw delights like vegan sushi and ravioli at Juice Press’ many Manhattan locations.
“With my knowledge of different preparation techniques and herbs and spices, I’m able to create familiar tastes and textures from unexpected ingredients,” the Pure Food and Wine veteran says.
So, for example, a walnut pate that looks and tastes like tuna fish. Seriously.
Jonas is also all about what he calls “conscious cuisine,” using ingredients that are plant-based, organic, and fair-trade.
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He teaches at the Natural Gourmet Institutes and has published three must-have guides to healthy cooking: The Flexitarian Table, Fresh Food Fast, and The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.
Berley is passionate about fresh, quality ingredients and about turning others on to healthy home-cooking.
“Simply put, when the ingredients are carefully grown, naturally and humanely raised, intelligently crafted and cooked with love, the result is healthy food.”
His dishes, like the famous Seitan Piccata, have raised expectations all over the city for what flavors and textures are possible with vegan cuisine.
“I want to make sure that all of our dishes are bursting with freshness and deliciousness,” says Ramos. They are.
Last fall, he shared his expertise (and recipes) with the world in Candle 79’s first cookbook.
(Photo Credit: Eric Marseglia)
Telepan is a farm-to-table superstar, and before opening his namesake restaurant, he headed up Judson Grill and worked in many of the city’s best kitchens, like Le Bernardin and Le Cirque.
His focus is on seasonal and local, and he executes the strategy in a more nutritious way than most of his peers, drawing on eclectic inspiration.
“My reference points are my childhood, New Jersey, France, Italy, and all of the wonderful chefs I’ve worked with,” he says.
Telepan is also the executive chef at Wellness in the Schools, where he works to health-ify school lunches.
Mengailis hasn’t been blending or dehydrating in Pure Food and Wine’s kitchen for a while now, but she is a raw food pioneer.
In addition to opening New York’s most famous vegan, raw restaurant, she’s the author of Living Raw Food and the co-author of Raw Food/Real World.
Melngailis says that the secret to delicious healthy foods is “lots of fresh herbs and citrus” and flavorful oils like macadamia, walnut, and pumpkinseed.
And while she doesn’t technically “cook,” raw food prep can be even trickier. “We find unusual ways to incorporate as well as concentrate flavor,” she explains. “Like, we’ll give something a smoky flavor using a smoked tea.”
French restauranteur Cyril Aouizerate (known for his Michelin-starred spots) tapped Harden to head up Brooklyn’s newest vegetarian spot, Maimonide of Brooklyn (M.O.B.).
And it’s no wonder since Harden previously ran the kitchens at Pure Food and Wine and at the organic, vegan Caravan of Dreams, in the East Village.
Now, Harden dishes out kale chips instead of bread baskets and open-faced vegetarian sandwiches.
Rouge Tomate’s chef has varied knowledge to draw from—he trained at several prestigious restaurants and also traded an Ivy League diploma for a sautee pan.
His is one of the only menus in the city that’s created in collaboration with a culinary nutritionist, Kristy Lambrou, R.D. so you know every plate is a balanced meal.
And his seasonal, sustainable cuisine can now also be found (in the form of better-for-you burgers) at a cart in Central Park.
“I never met a vegetable I didn’t like,” is the motto of this chef-about-town of New York’s healthy dining scene.
He also hosts a famous organic, vegan supper club, Nasturtium, with Elena Balleta in Brooklyn.
Cleaver was a slow foodie before there was a name for it, which is why she’s Alice Water’s go-to East Coast chef.
And while she has cooked for the Dalai Lama, Martin Scorcese, and tons of other celebs, her healthy, sustainable cuisine is still largely under the radar.
You can sample it via her catering company, Cleaver Co., or at her Chelsea Market farm-to-table spot, The Green Table.