About Chef Kirke Byers’ Chef Nurtured

For more than thirty years I’ve worked as a professional chef in restaurants, hotels, and for families in their homes as a private chef. Recently I decided to acquire a deeper knowledge of food by returning to college, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics. As a working chef I have put in the 10,000 hours of practice that Malcolm Gladwell suggested was needed to become expert in any field of endeavor in his book Outliers. 

Even so, I believe I will need to put in many more hours of practice before I know everything there is to know about food and nutrition. The world that was revealed once I began my studies in the science of human metabolism at college was both humbling and exciting. I knew fairly well how to procure and prepare food, now I began to learn what happened next, after the food entered the body. What I learned amazed me. Our bodies are finely tuned to hum along without our ever having to think about it, chomping away at all that and then some, swallowing, letting our digestion do its thing. Magically, our body’s homeostasis is maintained, and each system within, made up millions of cells, is perfectly in balance, without a thought from us. But we never stop talking or thinking about food. I’ve been to dinner parties where sitting at the table were doctors, lawyers, artists and others with lives seemingly more interesting than mine, yet everyone wanted to talk to the chef. What’s your favorite restaurant? How should I prepare kale? How do you stay so thin working as a chef? What’s your secret?

What I’ve learned from all my hours behind the stove and fewer hours in nutrition class, is that many questions about weight loss or optimum nutrition are better answered by not thinking about it too hard, but instead, by listening to our body’s intuition. We can learn to listen to our stomach relating its fullness. It’s called mindful eating, and it’s not some new trendy fad diet. The skill has been with us all along, but we just don’t stop eating long enough to listen. We should also listen to the siren song coming from the luscious, colorful fruits and vegetables at the market calling out to us, “Try me! Eat this!” There is a reason nature made them so colorful— it’s signaling that this food is really good for you, low in calories and high in nutrients. Nature is saying: “you need this for proper nourishment” or “eat more of these foods and you will most likely lose weight.” How can nature make it clearer? What could be more unequivocally obvious than to evolve fruits to look delicious?

Instead, we listen to this: Eat more of this! Eat less of that! You need to take mega-doses of this anti-oxidant pill to not get that disease! The all-meat diet. The all-grapefruit diet. Eat vitamin C and you will never get a cold (how is that working for you?). If there were a magic weight loss (and keep it off diet), don’t you think we would all know about it by now?  The answer is: calories in and calories out. It always has been, and it always will be. That is plain physics. I see people struggle, inundated by food and diet advertising televised and googled at them from all directions. Food is available everywhere, and at any time of the day. Food has become so omnipresent that its value has been degraded.

So…I felt that if I could show you my perspective, the chef/nutritionist perspective, driven by a love of food, driven by truth and beauty, that perhaps I could provide a more nourishing message. A good healthy diet is so easy to achieve. Down the aisle from the processed junk food is an incredibly bountiful produce aisle. Check it out. I learned as a chef that the perfect heirloom tomato does not need embellishment to be irresistibly delicious. It’s beautiful. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and eat it. That’s truth and beauty. (OK, maybe some basil.) The truth is simple. Calories in, calories out. That is the simple truth. Isn’t it a relief to know? Let me nurture you with nourishing food, images, recipes and truth. Become chef nurtured!