Monday, February 4, 2013

Let's Chat With Coterie Cuisine

We're in the second month of the New Year, which for me, is a good time to check in and see how I'm doing with my goals for the year.  Usually that involves staying on track with my healthy eating, but I can always use a boost of inspiration.  That might be trying a new recipe, or talking with some of my friends to get some inspiration.

Coterie Cuisine is a catering company founded by self taught chef, Nicole Rand Weiss.  She's based in NYC, and besides cooking fabulous food, she does grocery and green market tours, does wine pairings and can help organize your kitchen.  I picked her brain a bit about her take on eating healthy, while eating well.  

So Nicole, what is your food philosophy?

In my cooking for my family and for clients, I believe in only using the freshest ingredients and try to use local and organic ingredients whenever possible.  I believe in eating and cooking with the "right" fats and being able to take any recipe, even chicken parmigiana or lasagna, and making a healthier version of it.  I don't believe in depriving your body of food but eating in moderation, and paying attention to how one feels after putting certain foods in one's body. I can almost guarantee that you feel better after eating a hearty lentil soup and salad, instead of a cheeseburger and fries.  It isn't brain surgery, you may feel differently at certain points in the day with specific foods (i.e. I love to eat a green apple with a bit of almond butter for a snack, but it works better for my system if I eat this within a hour or two of a high intensity workout.  You should fill your plate 2/3 with vegetables, I am a pesce-pollotarian: I eat poultry and fish, but not red meat.  I primarily eat vegetarian, but can't live without sushi, it has been a mainstay for me for 30+ years.  In my business, I only cook what I will consume, I feel it is important to taste everything I prepare for a client. I do not eat beef, lamb, veal or pork, so these are not offered as menu items.

How did Coterie Cuisine come to be?

Sitting around my dining room table with good friends, great food and wine, during tough economic times, a friend said to me, "Nicole YOU should have your own show on the Food Network!" I passively said "Thanks." That evening after the dishes were done, I really thought about what they had said. I was told over and over how people would pay for my cooking and self taught knowledge of food and wine.  That year I began the process of thinking about what a catering business in NYC might look like.  After brainstorming with friends, Coterie Cuisine came to be! The thought of a "coterie" or "intimate" environment to gather friends and loved ones, sounded right for people living in NYC. I considered many avenues in which to explore, in the end, after hosting many dinner parties, and catering for friends and loved ones, my company as a private chef came to be.

Which foods do you always have in your fridge or cabinet? 

I like to juice every morning, so I always have plenty of ingredients for juicing: organic red swiss chard, organic kale, lemons, ginger, parsley, organic green apples, organic carrots, persian cucumbers and celery.  Additionally, I always have arugula and beets in my fridge for salads and good balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil in my cabinet for sauteing, making dressings, etc.

Do you have any tips on shopping locally, or at green markets?

I think that shopping at a Green Market or local purveyor is the way to go so that you really know you are eating seasonally and locally.  I love the colors you see at a Green Market and just by taking a stroll you can see things you would probably not see at your neighborhood supermarket (i.e. purple cauliflower).  

It's important to become familiar with the different farms at your market and establish a relationship with their staff. A Green Market, depending upon the size, can become overwhelming as many different farm stands sell the same things but at different prices.  If you establish a relationship with a certain farm stand, the likelihood of getting the best "bang for your buck" and freshest ingredients is far higher than just going stand to stand.  Additionally, it's fun to know truly where your food is coming from rather than just grabbing it off the shelves.  Lastly, I think the Green Market is a great way to try new vegetables and fruits that you may have been wanting to try or possibly have never even heard of.  In New York City, we have many different options of Green Markets depending upon the seasons and I like to try out different markets to see the variety that they bring to the city.  

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?

Right now I would say my favorite gadget is my juicer. I just throw things in and out comes a great, tasty and healthy juice that I have everyone morning.  Around October, I decided to try juicing daily instead of my morning coffee and it works!  I have great energy for my workouts, I can feel my synapses firing, it gets my system going and I don't get that high and low that you can get with caffeine.  I just feel good (and highly recommend it)!

Which recipes would you suggest for someone who has made a resolution to eat healthier, or for someone who has become a vegan/vegetarian?

During the winter months, making soups and stews in bulk are a great way to eat healthy and not have to cook on a daily basis.  Over the weekend, I usually make two soups, stews or chilli's for the week.  All three can be put in the freezer for future use and easily defrosted for a quick meal.  If someone is choosing to go the vegan/vegetarian route for the first time, it is extremely important to know how to get enough protein into your diet.  It is important to be more conscious about protein when you are not eating animal proteins. Adding things like quinoa, farro, brown rice, tofu, and legumes is a great way to start.  Be careful though....just because a restaurant or menu states that it is vegetarian or vegan does not necessarily mean it is 100% healthy.  Make sure to stay away from fried foods, heavy oils and filling your stomach with only carbohydrates.  Eating lots of leafy greens (kale, chard, collard greens,  mustard greens, turnip greens) and other vegetables will help keep you in check.

You can check out Nicole's website here, follow her on twitter here, or on facebook right here


misszippy said...

This was really fun and interesting to read. I love that she only cooks for clients what she would feed herself. I also love her idea of focusing on whole, real foods. Best of luck for continued success to her!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Nice, great post!! I love how she will only serve what she would eat herself