Sunday, March 28, 2010

Author Interview: Jennifer Iserloh

Earlier today, I reviewed a great new cookbook called SECRETS OF A SKINNY CHEF by Jennifer Iserloh. If you read my review, you can tell how much I liked the idea of healthy recipes that are also delicious!

I am so glad that Ms. Iserloh, the mastermind behind SKINNY CHEF agreed to answer a few of my questions about her new cookbook as well as healthy eating! I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did!

Booking Mama: I absolutely love the idea of your cookbook SECRETS OF A SKINNY CHEF -- that you can "focus on celebrating food and enjoying your favorite meals without feeling guilty or facing negative consequences." All of the recipes seem decadent without being unhealthy and full of fat. Why did you decide to write this cookbook and who do you consider the target audience to be?

Jennifer Iserloh: Writing my own cookbook has been my dream even before I applied to culinary school, and this book draws from all my personal experiences: from working under professional restaurant chefs, working as private chef and food styling, and what I learned from my Granny - a seasoned home cook.

Booking Mama: When did you get interested in cooking? What kind of training did you do to become a chef?

Jennifer Iserloh: I started cooking at the age of eight in my Granny’s kitchen where I spent most of my time. She really taught me serious cooking techniques, everything from make pie crusts to tempering eggs and sour cream, how to saute and even how to season meat with salt. When I changed careers at the age of 30 and went to culinary school, I was already familiar with many of the foods and techniques. I worked three months solid in a restaurant as part of an externship program where I really honed my knife skills. After I completed it, I found a part time private chef position but continued to work for a solid three years in New York City restaurant for free - just so I could learn more. I saw some really incredible things and had the chance to work in outstanding kitchens on the line creating food that went straight to diners.

Booking Mama: How did you go about selecting what recipes would appear in your cookbook? Did you find that you left any out that you wish had included?

Jennifer Iserloh: I wanted to give people a wide selection of American classics to choose from for my first book! I would love to write an entertaining book, a kids’ cookbook, there are so many recipes I’d like to share.

Booking Mama: You already do so much -- you are a chef and a yoga instructor; plus you also write for magazines and you appear on the radio and television (including the Today show.) How do you do find the time and energy to do it all?

Jennifer Iserloh: Energy comes from doing what you love and eating right!! I feel so lucky to have my “dream job” and that keeps me going even when it’s tough to get a day off and the weeks trickle by. My husband is also a huge help and support since we don’t have a staff - we are really a “mom and pop” shop. I have my house set-up to save time - our living room is sparsely decorated so that I can have space to do yoga in my living room when I don’t want to take time to commute to a studio. And I’m really lucky that we were able to fit a washer and dryer in my small kitchen so that I can do laundry while I’m testing recipes, a huge time saver and I love the smell of fresh laundry!

Booking Mama: All of the recipes look wonderful (and easy!) But do you have a few favorite or "go-to" recipes that you find yourself making more often?

Jennifer Iserloh: Thank you!! I go through phases- I was really into the carbonara and enchiladas over the past month but now that the weather is getting warmer I’ve been making the poolside soup.

Booking Mama: I've never interviewed an author of a cookbook before! What is the process for writing a cookbook? How long did it take for you to put the entire book together?

Jennifer Iserloh: I’m surprised, your questions are so great! Every recipe developer/ author has a different system but I write the recipes in my head first and then write them all. I’ll test from my written versions and tweak according to taste, texture, appearance and how the nutritional stats come out.

Booking Mama: One of the things that I enjoyed the most about the cookbook was the section at the beginning of the book where you explained your history with food. Why did you decide to include so much of your personal experiences with weight gain/loss?

Jennifer Iserloh: I really believe that eating well can directly impact the quality of your life. In my case, I experienced self transformation by cooking fresh food for myself, sharing it with others and doing yoga. I want to give people tools so that they can do it for themselves and now they have recipes and tips to get them started! So whether they have weight issues or happen to be slender but have poor eating habits, that they can be their OWN skinny chefs by making home cooked, nutritious foods in their own kitchens.

Booking Mama: I also loved all the nutritional advice that you gave through the book (especially the Skinny Secrets.) Were the nutritional sections harder to write than the rest of the cookbook? What was the most challenging thing about writing SKINNY CHEF?

Jennifer Iserloh: I’m not a nutritionist but I’ve worked for years with healthy eating publications as well as registered dietitians, so the nutrition part comes naturally. My other goal with the book was to include foods that have a super charged nutritional profile, so that people are not only eating delicious meals but including things in their diet that the body needs. Look out for the super skinny foods like spinach, broccoli, ground turkey, and ground flax.

Booking Mama: For those who people who want to lose weight but are overwhelmed by the amount of time and effort, what is the first step they can take to get started? What additional advice do you have for them?

Jennifer Iserloh: “Be cool with water!” It’s one of my skinny principles to better eating. Replace all your drinks with plain water for two weeks and see what happens. A lot of people don’t realize how many calories, sugar, preservatives, and fat may be in the drinks they are enjoying every day – things like soda, gourmet coffee drinks, sweetened juice shakes and flavored waters. I look a peak the other day at the nutritional info for a large coffee drink with whipped cream, and it was a whopping 500 calories. That’s a small meal’s worth of calories for me!

A huge thanks to Ms. Iserloh for taking time from her very busy schedule to answer my questions!


rhapsodyinbooks said...

Great question about how long it takes! I remember that was one of the most surprising things (for me) to come out of the movie Julie and Julia.

Beth F said...

Awesome interview! I can't wait to see the cookbook -- I have found that it's not very difficult at all to cut the fat and calories from many of my favorite foods without sacrificing flavor.

bermudaonion said...

Wow, I feel so unaccomplished after seeing all she does! I think I'm going to try drinking only water for 2 weeks to see what happens.

Bonnie said...

Great interview! I'm definitely going to look for this cookbook.