“As much as I give you recipes,” culinary nutritionist Stefanie Sacks told our class of 11, “I’m going to tell you not to follow them.” She was brandishing a chef’s knife and a sharpening stone.
She wanted to stress the importance of a sharp knife.
I had scored a spot at Sacks’s inaugural session of Reboot Food, a series of instructive courses designed to teach the marriage of cooking and nutrition. This particular class was centered around breakfast: How to cook it quickly, healthfully, and happily. My classmates and I surrounded Sacks at a massive stainless steel island in the gleaming new Kitchen for Liam at Scoville Hall in Amagansett, the project spearheaded by J and Courtney Silhan, who lost their two-year-old son Liam in 2014. The kitchen is majestic, outfitted with a Robot Coupe (a fancy Cuisanart for professional kitchens), several Hobart mixers, a Vitamix blender, all manner of professional-grade appliances, and cookware donated by Anolon.
REBOOT FOOD 4 Grown Ups lunch menu for Monday JULY 3 is Seasonal Gazpacho with Basil Pesto, Spiked Cilantro Hummus, Summer Greens + Beans Salad, Bok Choy Caesar with Savory Herb Chicken, Untraditional Egg Salad. A few spots left in class. We will be cooking up a storm at A Kitchen 4 Liam at Scoville Hall in Amagansett. To learn more and register, go to REBOOT-FOOD.COM. #rebootfood #justeatreal #chatchopchew
“I started cooking for people with illness and that morphed into aligning myself with more clinical nutritionists,” Sacks told me. “They were talking about using food as a prescription, as medication.” Sacks has adopted this methodology when it comes to food. How can we use the food we enjoy to stave off illness, to make ourselves better while still savoring the bounty and the corporeal joy that is food?
Sacks’s experience extends back decades. She began as a professionally trained chef and then followed up her education at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts with a nutrition degree from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College. She holds a Master of Science in Nutrition Education, as well as the certification as a Nutrition Specialist. In 2014, she released her book through Penguin Random House, What the Fork Are You Eating, dubbed “an action plan for your pantry and plate.” And I was about to see that action plan hard at work.
Our kitchen was already stocked with pantry items, as well as with the perishables that we would need for the three-hour class. Our recipes arrived in neat folders, and every student received, in addition to this paperwork, a complimentary apron with Reboot Food printed on the front. Over the course of the afternoon, we would cook five recipes: the Green Goddess Smoothie; the Powderless Protein Drink; the Golicious Granola Bowl; the Seasonal Vegetable Frittata; and the Morning Miso Soup with Quinoa. Recipes were easy to follow and ingredients—some obscure—were explained as we used them. The class’s ability ranged from proficient to novice. For the students who felt less comfortable with their skills in the kitchen, Sacks traveled the room, offering advice on cleaning and cutting vegetables, adding seasoning, and managing the convection oven (spoiler: they run hot).
Assembled into a group with two other students, I found great camaraderie in the classroom, a throwback to my days as, well, ok, I’ll admit it, the smarty pants, I-know-the-answers, front seat of the classroom student. “Where’s my food coming from?” Sacks implored that we ask, and I couldn’t have agreed more about this philosophy regarding how we self-nourish. The class was not only a primer for how to cook and cook properly; it was also a directive to look at food differently, not as an enemy, or even as a best friend, but as the fuel for our individual machines. Sacks lamented the “disconnect” between nourishment and food. In the era of the Greatest Food Instagram Photo Ever to Hit the Internet, this seemed an apt consideration.
Thank you to all of my REBOOT FOODies for being a part of my dream…a Hamptons local culinary workshop series that teaches folks how to marry simple, nutritious + delicious. What a gift to be able to take vision to reality. More to come and please join in. Go to REBOOT-FOOD.COM to register. #rebootfood #justeatreal #chatchopchew #hamptonscooking #healthycooking @teddelano making a #fritata in awesome @anolon cookware!!! And thanks @vickisveggiesamagansett for your support as always.
Recognize, reboot, renourish. Those were the terms Sacks wanted me to remember. The key to healthy eating, in her estimation, is recognizing our issues with food, rewiring our systems, and renourishing our bodies in the process. “That’s what I do,” she told me. “I reboot peoples’ relationships with food.”
Sacks limits class enrollment to 12, providing ample time for discussion and joyful tasting. She wanted an intimate setting, and the setting was, indeed, intimate; by afternoon’s end, my cooking partners and I had exchanged numbers and vowed to meet up outside of class for a drink or an oyster or two. Her class is a reflection of her life’s work, in which she enters peoples’ homes—their most intimate spaces—and teaches them how to reconsider their relationships with food.
“These workshops are the culmination of my years of practicing in the fields of culinary and nutrition,” she said. “I use food as the centerpiece.” As for me, I was happy as a locally sourced clam in the kitchen, picking off stray blueberries from a smoothie recipe and popping them into my mouth with abandon. Isn’t this the primal joy of cooking, after all?
Reboot Food has availability in 10 upcoming workshops. Classes are three-hours long and cost $150 per class. For more information on upcoming classes, visit reboot-food.com.