About this blog...

Food has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Food and the festivities surrounding its arrival to the table has always been a focal point in our family. For many years I have been amassing the cookbooks, recipe cards, cooking journals, diaries, manuscripts and clipping files of our once extensive family.

Personally, I’ve been professionally involved with food for over 40 years in numerous and varied culinary capacities across the country so I also have the collected stories, as well as current and on-going food-related experiences from my own life I’d like to share.

My idea has long been that someday I would bring all of this marvelous raw material together into a culinary journey through our family’s heritage. This journal is the beginnings of that journey.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Private Chefdom - Part 7: The Diet Challenge


Part 7 of a 9-part series

Family Dieting was another on-going series of loosing battles for me.  To some extent I brought the grief on myself by making such a big deal about my familiarity with the Diet Analyzer computer program and by even using it to enhance my audition dinner with them.  Apparently both of the Quires were concerned about their weight and health and had been stalled in their weight-loss programs for, well, a really long time.  Suddenly it became my responsibility to make something happen for them.  Now, I can understand that as their cook, if they gave me a list of foods to prepare or, conversely, to avoid I could do that.  If they told me that they wanted a low-fat, or low-sodium, or low-cholesterol diet I’d give it my best shot.  I’m no dietitian but I could, with some work probably, make passable cuisine even with most common restrictions.  Unfortunately, what they wanted was to keep eating like they always had but for me to magically make their poundage disappear.
Alright, maybe that’s not completely fair to them.  Mr. Quire was on his version of the Scarsdale Diet while I worked for them.  I’m not too familiar with it but that was OK because with his version of the diet, he only followed it for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday.  I was never there for breakfast, and he took his lunch on weekdays over at the office building so I didn’t have to deal with it.
There were also a couple of weeks when Mrs. Quire seemed seriously interested in losing weight.  She came to me and appeared genuinely sincere about having me help her.  We decided that the best thing to do was to set a daily caloric intake for her and for me to plan meals with that as a goal for her.  This sounded like a good plan so I worked hard, using my home computer and software to design special menus.  I would come in everyday with my little print-outs for her, so she could see exactly how her calories were being counted and I think she was actually beginning to get a feel for the caloric values for some of the foods she had been eating.  I was impressed with her commitment and I promised to work hard at it for as long as she did.
It lasted two days.  She didn’t cave in all at once but began cheating on the third evening.  “It’s just one glass of wine” with dinner.  Sure, just one glass, but it was holding 10 oz if it was holding a sip.  Probably at least 180 calories, “Bang”, just like that.  The next day at lunch she told me she “needed” a piece of bread to go with her meal.  I tired to explain that a slice of bread was not included in my calculations for her.  She was not interested.  She said, “it’s not so many calories.  It’s just a push”  When she could see I had no idea what she was talking about she repeated “Push, push, you know to push the food onto the fork”  she then lopped off a big chunk from a crusty loaf on the counter and left.  She skipped counting calories at all on Sundays to “have a day off”.  By the 6th day she was nibbling cookies in the morning, having little plates of cheese and dry sausage and bread in the afternoons, and back to drinking wine with evening meals.  After 12 days she complained to me that the counting-calories wasn’t working, she wasn’t losing any weight.  At 2 weeks after starting the “diet” she brought me her favorite full-cream ice cream recipe to make for them for dessert that night “with some nice chocolate cookies”.  After that I didn’t even bother to try to help anymore, but she still complained that she wasn’t losing weight for the rest of the time I worked for her.

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