Kitchen Clinician: Chef David Bouley's Mission to Boost Our Brains Through Food

Drew Ramsey, MD


August 10, 2017

Chef and Doctors

Dr Ramsey: You've started a "chef and doctors" series, where you have some of the top docs around the country come for an evening of learning and eating. How did you get started doing this?

Chef Bouley: The Chef and Doctor series developed because a lot of doctors couldn't tell me what to eat until they got sick themselves. They learned to influence their health through diet, which is a big movement now. A lot of people in the health practice don't feel that they're getting what they need simply from a medication. Food has been sort of misconceived or underappreciated, and has become such a small part of their crowded life. But now it has suddenly become something that people know more about, particularly those who have realized that they can get their bodies back in balance and become very healthy with no side effects. So the Chef and Doctor series is an open platform where doctors come in and share stories about their personal lives and how they turned their bodies around.

About 80%-90% of our Chef and Doctor series are people who had their own health issues. This is a platform for them to educate others about the changes and choices they made to positively change their health, and share that with the consumer base.

Patron as Patient

Chef Bouley: As someone with 44 years of cooking, studying, and training, my job is not just providing healthy food, but also getting people to build the confidence that they can do it too. You can do things with the cheapest foods that are beneficial to your body. My job is to learn how science and food together can change a lot of the epidemic health problems today.

I'm also at a point today where we have regular clients who come in to the restaurant, and sometimes bring their doctors. The doctors started to ask me, "The cholesterol is down, blood pressure is down; how are you doing this?" I didn't know what I was doing; that wasn't my intention. I just wanted them to feel more energy, so when they went back to work, they said, "I ate at the right place today." Or they slept better, awoke better, performed better. But now I'm learning it from the science point of view.

"Chefs have to accept that they can be part of the healing process. We're not just there for pleasure..."

Dr Ramsey: You speak about your patrons in much the same way psychiatrists talk about their patients. You seem to have a real desire to know the individual, their preferred flavors, their health.

Chef Bouley: Absolutely. Chefs have high levels of technique and knowledge of vast amounts of recipes, but we change along with our societies and communities. Food sources are a big influence of our lifestyle today. Chefs have to accept that they can be part of the healing process. We're not just there for pleasure, where you're going out on an anniversary and feeling like you can't eat anything for 2 weeks afterward.

French nouveau cuisine, building on what they learned from the Japanese, created food at a high level of execution that was also nutrient-dense. This represented a turning point in the 1970s and 1980s, away from the earlier generation that didn't introduce new concepts or listen to their customers. I accepted the challenge to absorb enough knowledge about customers so that I could learn how to cook in many different ways. This was the first step toward learning more about food as health.


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