By Sabrina Grotewold with reporting and interviewing by Kate Bongiovanni
Ryan Hutmacher, triathlete, marathoner, chef and CEO of Centered Chef, a dining venue and culinary business offering cooking classes, consulting and corporate wellness and team building in Chicago, could become the American version of Jamie Oliver. Formerly 230 pounds and a smoker, Hutmacher was deemed at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes; this was the crossroads. Hutmacher quit his job, attended cooking school, traveled to France for a culinary internship and started multi-sport training. When he returned to Chicago from France, he co-founded the Centered Chef in August 2005 and lost more than 50 pounds through training for events like Ironman Cozumel and living his food philosophy: clean comfort food that fuses with nutrition. An active participant in community and national health and wellness initiatives such as Building a Healthier Chicago-Let’s Move, FIT City Chicago, and the American Cancer Society, among others, Chef Hutmacher is taking his local, seasonal, fresh cooking mantra on the road this summer in a “Cook Better” tour—look for demos in an area near you.
Here are some healthy seasonal recipes from Chef Hutmacher:
Whole Wheat Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
“This is like the epitome of having a bunch of stuff from the farmer’s market,” Hutmacher says.
½ pound whole wheat penne pasta
2 cups of tomatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 clove garlic, minced
½ c. basil, cut into thin ribbons
¼ c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
How to: Cut tomatoes into small ½-inch chunks. Add garlic, basil and parmesan cheese to a bowl, add tomatoes on top. Let pasta cook for about 15 minutes, drain, return pasta to hot pot. Take the bowl with tomato mixture and add to the sauce pot so the hot pasta cooks the tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over the top and add the lemon zest for a punch of flavor. Can be eaten the following day as a cold pasta salad—add a splash of balsamic so it doesn’t feel like eating leftovers.
10 oz. tomatoes, diced, with skins removed
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1/3 c. sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
½ teaspoon mustard seed
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
How to: Core tomatoes, remove the tomato skins, dice tomato into chunks. In a saucepot, sweat the minced shallots until they get soft. Throw diced tomatoes on top and stew them. After 5-10 minutes, add sugar, white wine vinegar, crushed red pepper flake, mustard seed, dried oregano. Simmering until it softens together but takes consistency of jelly. After 25-30 minutes, let it cool slightly and place mixture in food processor to make it smooth. Serves four.
“If you have these really nice rosti on the side with this tomato jam, it goes really well with lean, white cuts of meat or even braised chicken legs, like a dark meat chicken—it’s delicious and succulent.”
“The tomato jam is amazing because it pairs really well with pork and chicken,” he says. “You could just glaze the meat.”
Peppercorn and Coriander Crusted Flank Steak
“Athletes love [this] because it’s a really lean cut of meat but you still get that richness of red meat,” Hutmacher says.
1 teaspoon green peppercorns
½ teaspoon pink peppercorns
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole coriander
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 pound flank steak
Salt (kosher or sea), to taste
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
How to: Take a coffee grinder and coarsely grind the peppercorns and coriander together. Remove from coffee grinder and add to brown sugar, to make the rub. Blot the flank steak with paper towel to remove moisture. Season it with some kosher salt or sea salt on both sides. Use a basting brush to coat one side with Dijon mustard, then sprinkle that side with the rub, load generously. Flip flank steak over to add mustard and rub to the other side. While preparing meat, warm barbecue grill to medium heat for about 15 minutes. Grease the grill rack. Toss flank steak onto grill and allow to cook for 6-8 minutes on each side for a medium doneness. Check temperature in the thickest part of the meat: 135 degrees for medium, 145 for medium well. When cooked to your liking, remove from grill and let meat rest on cutting board for about five minutes. Cut meat against the grain in thin slices—maximum 1/8 inch thick—to serve.