Building a Center
Healthy Dining Forum Brings Taste to the Table
When Chef William Idell ’89 of JWU’s College of Culinary Arts speaks about culinary nutrition, every culture
“has a voice at the table.” Idell believes there is a disconnect between nutritionists and chefs. He has simplified the
math and science of nutrient-based guidelines into what he calls “food-based” guidelines that are more relevant in
That philosophy was imparted in October 2009 at the first Healthy Dining Forum held in Rhode Island. The
goal was to provide local chefs with the basic tools to create and prepare healthy menu options.
Chefs can bypass the complexity of nutritional guidelines by sticking to a palette of flavors, lean meats and
whole grains, Idell told the gathering. He incorporates five basic flavor profiles into his own guidelines: Latin,
Mediterranean, North African, Asian and Indian. Each reflects the ingredients, spices, herbs and seasonings basic
to that part of the world. “You can create a healthier version of a menu item without sacrificing flavor and taste,”
The forum was part of Eat Smart Rhode Island, a campaign promoting collaboration among Rhode Island
restaurants, Farm Fresh Rhode Island, the Johnson & Wales Providence Campus Culinary Nutrition Department
and the Rhode Island Department of Health’s Initiative for a Healthy Weight. Presenters included Catherine
Adams, from the National Restaurant Association, and Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public
Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group.
Participants included local alumni who teamed up with JWU students in the kitchens where they were given a
mystery basket and a limited amount of time to create healthful meals. Students exchanged tips from the classroom
while the pros shared their experiences from the realities of the restaurant business.
Image: Derek Wagner '99, co-owner Nick's on Broadway, checked out ingredients available for a friendly cook-off.
‘Big Mama’ Talks Toppoki
Hoping to make toppoki as popular
as pizza, the Korean Ministry
for Food, Agriculture, Forestry
and Fisheries is promoting Korean
cuisine globally. In September
2009, a film crew from the
Korean Broadcasting System came
to campus, along with South
Korean celebrity chef, Hae Jeong
Lee, known as “Big Mama,” to
document JWU students and chefs experimenting with toppoki recipes.
Toppoki, a traditional Korean dish once served to kings, is now a popular snack
food available from snackbars and street vendors throughout South Korea. In its
raw stage, toppoki, a rice-based product, resembles macaroni. It is extremely
versatile and can be combined with any variety of vegetables, proteins and sauces.
Image: Jeong Lee — “Big Mama” — (right), reviews a recipe with culinary students while filming a
Korean Broadcasting System documentary on campus.
“In addition to our economic impact, JWU contributes
to the vibrancy of the City of Providence through the
community service of our students and the successful
careers and entrepreneurial spirit of our graduates.”