Sunday, April 25, 2010

Healthy Eating Month: Celebrity Chef Dominique Rizzo Interview

I was lucky enough to be given a gift voucher to take some cooking classes for my birthday and even luckier for the class to be headed by celebrity chef Dominique Rizzo. It was during this cooking class that I was cheeky enough to approach Dominique for an interview for Gastronomy Gal! Luckily, she said yes!

Dominique is an amazing cook who also manages to combine her love for food (she is Italian after all!) with healthy living. In fact Dominque’s passion for whole foods is so strong, she runs a ‘Pure Food’ program teaching school students modern cooking technique whilst helping them to develop appreciation for healthy whole foods.

Dominique is a guest chef on Channel ten’s Ready Steady Cook and a spokesperson for Gourmet Garden and Rubbermaid. Aside from her Pure Food program, she also hosts cooking classes, does private catering and food styling, is in the process of writing her own book, is a guest chef for many food festivals and upcoming Food TV shows AND still stays sensationally slim and healthy. When I heard all of these fantastic feats, I thought Dominique would be a wonderful source of information for Healthy Eating April. Maybe she can shed some light on how she manages to stay so svelte whilst living a food lover’s dream life.

1.) Having an Italian background, I guess cooking is in your blood. Did you start cooking when you were really young?

My mother tells me that I use to make her and dad breakfast in bed when I was three or four and use to use the hot water tap in the bath to make their coffee, so yes, I started young.

2.) I love the idea of teaching healthy eating from an early age. Do you find that kids are more receptive to trying new things if they have been involved in the process of cooking?

Amazingly so, and also, through seeing other children trying different food they are highly influenced. I feel that when children have an opportunity to be in the process of making the food, they really feel proud and want to then enjoy what they have made.

3.)How many schools are you teaching in and do you have a view to extending your program to all QLD schools? I think it would be fab to see that!!

I have visited about 6 schools in Brisbane and am looking to also head up to Bundaberg and down to Sydney, showing how to change the recipes around to suit your lifestyle and tastes. As most of the recipes will be from my Sicilian family they are all deliciously simple and use only a few ingredients but ending up with a wonderfully fresh flavours.

4.)I know you are a big advocate, Can you give us the rundown on ‘Whole Foods?’

To me whole foods is as it says, incorporating “real foods” in your cooking using a variety of grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and also fresh organic meats. So to me its really cutting out all of the tinned, preservative rich foods that can sustain in packets for ages. Fresh food, like us, is living food and the more we eat the living foods the more vibrant and healthy we will feel.

5.)You’ve just arrived back from an Italian holiday. For Italian novices, what is your favourite region and what did you eat there?

Well of course Sicily is my favourite region and my favourite dishes were fresh artichokes baked in the oven with garlic, pecorino cheese, anchovies and bread crumbs, also I love their pasta and cauliflower with pine nuts and currants. Sword fish crumbed and baked in the oven with a dressing of parsley garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. I had a wonderful banquet of cous cous and a squid ink sauce.. and the desserts........I could go on for hours.

6.)When you can't be in Italy, what is your favourite place to eat out in Brisbane?

I love fresh foods and also world foods so Grasshopper in Teneriffe for Thai/Asian, Oyama and Sakura in west end for Japanese , Govndas Hari Krishna cafe at west end for wonderful vegetarian and at a great price and also I love Indian.....I love Confit in new Farm for a special breakfast , also Mario in the Dinning Room at Hendra, he is so Italian and the food was beautifully simple, perfectly cooked and delicious. Also I recently went to Glass on the Gold Coat and it was fantastic.

7.) Biggest food influences in your life?

My Zia, my mum, my first Head Chef Brenda and my love for foods that say something.

8.) What would your standard weekday lunch or dinner include?

Lunch usually for me is a salad with some sort of grain,.I love chickpeas, lentils and salty things like olives, feta, capers and tossed with roasted free range or organic chicken or tuna and a home made dressing with loads of herbs. Dinner usually is fish, I love salmon so its salmon, seared, steamed, grilled and served with as many vegetables as I can find in my fridge. I am big on dressings and make great asian, Mediterranean and yoghurt dressings to jazz up things.

9.)What is your favourite type of food to splurge on?

Italian Gelati

10.) What is your favourite really healthy dish?

Cold Soba noodles, greens and cold poached salmon with a sesame seed dressing or a green papaya salad with a good handful of thai herbs and prawns with a zesty lime and chilli dressing.

I noticed I'm not the only one who has approached Dom for healthy recipes!

11.) What would you order when you are eating out and trying to be conscious of weight/health?

Usually fish or seafood, I had a beautiful warm seafood and thai salad with coconut tom yum broth....fantastic. Or I will order chicken if its free range or organic, I don’t really eat a lot of meat as my body never really asks for it

12.) How do you manage to stay so slim whilst loving food? Diet and exercise combination?

Definitely, infact I get asked that all the time, people are amazed and always say how slim I am which I don’t think I am, but they feel that as I chef I must eat all the time, and I do but its what I ea. Yes, I also do exercise about 4-5 times a week. Its about balance, if I want to eat what I want, then exercise allows me to have that food freedom.

13.)Do you have any extra tips for Gastronomy Gal on healthy eating?

Listen to your body and hunger full signals, that way you can eat what you want, just stop when you have had enough.

14.) Most used cook book?

Stephanie Alexanders “Cooks Companion”....its now falling apart

15.)Where can we expect to see you in the next couple of months i.e. on TV, Cooking shows etc>?

Good Food and Wine Shows, just got back from the Melbourne Flower and Garden show, Starlight Dinner in Brisbane, Pinnaroo with Peter Everett and Mathew Golinski and yes back on Ready Steady Cook with a new kitchen and new cooking tips. There are a few projects coming up but all a little hush hush at the moment.

Wow- what an inspiration. Dominique, thanks so much for the interview- you are amazing and a perfect role model for Healthy Eating Month! Check out Dominique's website and don't forget to keep your eye out for her cook book that is being released soon- I'm sure it will be jam packed with some wonderful Sicilian recipes, Yum. -

Photos are from Dominique's website with her permission.

8 fabulous comments:

Sydneysider said...

I ate at Mondo Organics when Dominique was the chef and the food was amazing!

I notice Dominique is available for private catering. Has anyone had any experience in hiring chefs for private parties?

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Great interview. Very informative.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a great score GG! :D It's a fantastic interview! :)

Eyes Bigger Than Belly said...

Great interview - she sounds lovely!! Awesome tips there too - but the real key for me is in your previous post - I actually need to exercise... *sigh*

rhubarbwhine said...

Great interview and great opportunity, lucky you. This was really interesing - thanks!

cathy x. said...

wow you're so lucky! :D what did you learn in her cooking class?

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

Great interview, Gastronomy Gal! What a score =)

foodwink said...

Fantastic interview! Dominique sounds really lovely. I like her tips at nos 8 and 12 :)

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