Corpulence was once a sign of wealth, and fatness equated with the ability to eat well. These days cheap junk food gets all the bad rap for causing bulk and binging, but it’s time we turn our eyes to the white tablecloth restaurant to see what calories are really hiding behind those caviar and truffles.
For our search we found the recipes of ten signature dishes from the nation’s most renowned chefs, and plugged each ingredient into the USDA’s official calorimeter. The rare ingredients that are included in most of these champion meals often demanded more legwork in the calorie counting process. Turtle meat (the main ingredient of the Commander’s Palace famous turtle soup) was in the USDA database, crème fraiche or truffle oil were not. Wylie Dufresne’s masterpiece of molecular gastronomy, Fried Eggs Benedict, had us researching what sounded like components of a science fair project. (How many calories are in a Hexaphosphate?)
In the end, it should come as no surprise to learn that these high-class feasts are extravagant for more than just our wallets. There were a few exceptions. Dishes from chefs such as Dan Barber or Alice Waters, who earned their reputations on their approach to the vegetable, had fewer calories than a typical four-star meal. Check out the slideshow for the illuminating results of our calorie research. But if you do ever have the opportunity to eat one of these meals, try your best to forget what you have learned. After all, it’s not every day that you can eat like a king or queen.