First-Ever Weight Watchers Chef Talks About His Journey

Ryan Hutmacher granted The Daily Meal his first-ever interview as winner of “The Chew Search for the Weight Watchers Chef”

Chef Ryan Hutmacher on the set of "The Chew."

After six weeks of intense competition on ABC’s The Chew, Weight Watchers has found its first official Weight Watchers Chef. Chef Ryan Hutmacher, a Chicago-based cook and nutritionist who used to be overweight himself, received a $75,000 one-year consulting contract with the weight-loss company, and his goal, he said, is to get people back in the kitchen.

“I connect people to the idea that losing weight isn’t about deprivation, it’s about opportunity,” said chef Hutmacher. “It’s an opportunity to get back to cooking, and focus on preparing fresh ingredients in new ways. Cooking is fundamental to losing weight.”

Chef Hutmacher said he also felt that his audience could relate to him and his own personal weight-loss journey when he transformed his body after a doctor told him that he was a pre-Type 2 diabetic. Now he is the founder of “The Centered Chef,” a culinary studio that focuses on healthy cooking.

“I think that relating my story to other people and knowing firsthand that you don’t have to be bound by your lifestyle is really important,” said Hutmacher. “We are our own gatekeepers; if we can monitor the food going in, we’re going to see results a lot faster.”

Hutmacher said that by being someone who understands food cravings, he can create recipes around those desires for hearty comfort food. For instance, Hutmacher’s recipe for cornbread pot pie actually has a full serving of vegetables in it, but it has the silky texture topped with the crunch of the cornbread that fried foods have.

As for ingredients, Hutmacher is of course drawn to fresh fruits and vegetables, and said that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring or predictable.

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“People focus so much on what they can’t eat when on a diet, but by opening up their eyes the horizon is painted with so many healthy ingredients and dishes that they never even heard of.”