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What a cross-country journey taught Danny Boome about eating healthy in America

(Photo: Good Food America)
Good Food America
(Photo: Good Food America)

As the former host of shows like Rescue Chef and Recipe Rehab (and Donut Showdown!), chef and TV personality Danny Boome has gained lots of perspective on how people choose, cook, and eat their food.

And his personal experience of using veggies and a gluten-free diet to save himself from health issues has made him want to help people do all of that in more healthful ways. “Every show is different, but my message is always the same,” he says. “You can learn to cook, you can teach the family to eat better one meal at a time, you can have fun in the kitchen, and you can find good food anywhere!”

On his newest show, Good Food America, on Z Living (formerly Veria Living), that “anywhere” might mean at Oleana, an Arabic-influenced restaurant in Boston, or Peche Seafood Grill in New Orleans, or Green Vegetarian Cuisine in San Antonio. We caught up with him after he returned from hunting down the healthiest restaurants in the 50 states.

Here’s what Boome learned about healthy eating in America while filming.

You visited healthy chefs and restaurants across the country. What did the experience tell you about the state of the healthy food movement in the United States? The biggest takeaway from my Good Food America journey was that good food is wanted everywhere! Organic food and sustainable practices are being crafted into good food all over America. Our relationship with fresh produce that is cooked simply is getting us back to understanding that commercial, over-produced, deep fried, chemically-enhanced junk is not the only option anymore. We lost touch with the origins of our food and how to cook it over the last 30 years. This journey proves there has never been a better time for people to buy right, dine better, and find good food that is accessible and more affordable than ever before.

What are some examples of the most interesting healthy dishes you encountered? Wow, that’s a toughie! I think the stand out was seasonality. About 98 percent of our guests source directly from local farms, which means the menu was just made up on the spot from what the farmer brought in. As a chef, that gives you a huge buzz creatively. I think a close second was the concept of open wood-fire cooking. I think I counted between six and eight restaurants that had gone totally natural, cooking everything on open fire—such great smells and flavors, and the healthiest and best way to cook anything in my opinion.

How did approaches to “healthy” food change in different regions of the country? What’s kind of amazing is that we visited 16 states, 25 cities, and 76 restaurants in five months of filming. Everywhere we went, people knew where the good food was, be it organic, sustainable, or hardcore healthy. Every person we met wanted to tell you about the next great place. I think this proved to me that food is the great leveler; we love to find taste, smell, or remedies and pass them along to nourish the next person. We all love fresh food!

What was your absolute favorite thing you ate on Good Food America? I honestly couldn’t say—everywhere we went, the crew and I were spoiled beyond our wildest dreams. It doesn’t have to be the most elite or the rarest, it’s all about the time the chef and their teams have put in to create a menu made from the best local, organic, and sustainable foods. —Lisa Elaine Held

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