Chef Inspired Healthy With Diane Henderiks ~ Todd English

Todd English has built a culinary empire! He is a four-time James Beard Award Winner, restaurant mogul, cookbook author and television personality. Todd and I first met while shooting a healthy cooking segment together for Good Morning America at his Todd English Food Hall located at The Plaza in NYC. In addition to being a great chef and guy, there is something mystical about Todd. When you first meet him, his soft spoken nature and quiet charm leave you with a feeling like "Twilight" meets "Top Chef." Todd is a brand of his own and has his successful hands in a multitude of ventures which, at the core, is food. Todd has been an innovator of interpretive, rustic Mediterranean cuisine for over twenty years and is a fixture stamp in our culinary minds.

Let's get Todd's take on healthy cooking and eating:

Diane: Do you see a trend with diners seeking better-for-you dishes on the menus?

Todd: Yes definitely. Especially with the changing of the seasons to Spring and Summer diners want lighter foods and smaller portions. Lunchtime we see this trend a lot as well with diners wanting smaller portions and plenty of healthy items- salads, tartare, soups, appetizers as entrees, etc.

Diane: What's your definition of "Healthy Eating?"

Todd: Everything in Moderation. If you really want that French fries or chocolate chip cookie (two of my weaknesses as well) go for it! But not everyday. If you deprive yourself you end up wanting them more and binging. Also of course eating fresh foods, not processed or canned foods is key. Try to buy and eat foods that are in season and local from your farmer's market whenever possible because they're fresher and have had less of a shelf life before they get to the consumer. You want to know what's in your food and where it's coming from as much as possible. That's the whole idea and trend behind "farm to table" cooking and dining.

Diane: What is your secret to cooking healthier without sacrificing flavor?

Todd: Spices and Citrus! I love cooking with spices because it adds so much flavor without all the fat. My favorite spices to cook with are Berber spice, Harissa, ZaTar, and cooking with chili's- heat is great for your metabolism! Also citrus and natural sugars from fruits and vegetables are key in cooking. I love juicing and using fresh vegetable juices in my foods such as carrot and beet juices in risotto's and of course citrus in vinaigrettes and oils.

Diane: What is your Favorite Dish on your own Menu and why?

Todd: All my dishes are like my children... you can't pick a favorite and you love them all.... Otherwise they don't go on my menu.

Diane: Update on what's new and exciting in your world?

Todd: I've been focusing on overseas expansion which has been exciting and fun. I've also got a new television project that I'm working on, and really just spending time with my three grown kids!

Click here for Chef Todd English's  Spring Pea & Goat Cheese Kale Salad Recipe

Diane Henderiks is a personal chef and culinary nutritionist on a mission to teach America how to cook and eat well. Follow her on Twitter @dhenderiks, "Like" Diane on Facebook, or visit her website.