Making healthy eating easy and delicious: it's more than just a tag line at Diet to Go. It's how we operate. And to ensure that every DTG meal tastes great from the first bite to the last, we have on staff some of the best cooking talents around. Don Shaw, Diet-to-Go's Head Chef is no exception. His culinary expertise is what helps make DTG meals some of the best (and healthiest) you'll ever experience!
Read more about Don's cooking style, his culinary inspiration and why he's passionate about Diet-to-Go:
1. What is your favorite part about being a chef for DTG?
My very favorite part about being a chef for DTG is the great team that I get to work with: consummate professionals with great attitudes! But a close second would be how often I hear about how delicious the food is. It's so gratifying when people say they can't believe they're eating "diet" food, or that they had no idea healthy food could taste so good.
2. What are your 5 favorite meals to cook for DTG?
My five favorite meals would probably be Chana Masala, Shaw's Shepherd's Pie, Mushroom Strata, Portobello Lasagna and Italian Meatballs.
3. What did you have for dinner last night?
I made Lebanese grilled lamb loin, dolmas, baba ganoush and grilled potatoes. Low calories, high in good fats, protein, fiber, and oh man, it was delicious!
4. Where do you get most of your ingredients? What is your favorite? Are they local?
To ensure we use the best quality ingredients in all our DTG meals, we use a very large number of purveyors: for our grains and starches (most of which are organic) we use Neshaminy Valley; for produce and proteins we use several local providers who supply us with the freshest, locally-grown products concentrating on in-season items. We also have a couple of distributors that supply us with dry goods and other kitchen staples.
My current favorite ingredient is agave nectar, which I just recently started working with. It has such versatility and makes any recipe taste yummy.
5. What are the five things everyone needs in their kitchen?
The most important things everyone should have in their kitchen include: a very reliable heat source, good sharp knives, a wide range of herbs and spices, water and perhaps most importantly, knowledge of how to treat food safely.
6. When you are testing a new recipe, how do you decide if it will make it on the menu?
All DTG meals are taste tested to ensure they meet our high quality standards. We have a tasting panel this is presented a sample of the proposed meal. They taste the meals and offer constructive criticism. If there are any problems we work to make adjustments, retest it, and then once it gets the panel's approval, the meal will join the menu.
7. Is the kitchen inspected for safety the same way restaurants are?
Our kitchen is actually inspected much more thoroughly than a restaurant kitchen is. In addition to the local health department, we are inspected daily by the USDA. In fact, the USDA inspector even has a desk at our facility! We are also inspected regularly by the Federal & Virginia FDA.
8. What was your first job with food?
My first job working with food was helping run the kitchen at the Wax Museum in Washington D.C.
9. You are on a desert island, what is one food you couldn't live without?
Oh gosh, I should probably say something exotic or out of the ordinary but honestly (and this comes from being a true flatlander) if I were stuck on a desert island I'd have to have my corn on the cob!
10. Where did you receive your training to be a chef?
In addition to the real life experience I have from working in the food industry and in various kitchens for the past 25 years, I have also taken many cooking and nutrition courses throughout my life. I continue to educate myself about the changing food and nutrition industry. I believe a chef's training is ongoing.
11. Do you have a signature dish?
I don't have a signature dish per se, but I love working with different ethnic foods. I find it very intriguing to work with the herbs and spices that characterize different cuisines from around the world. I love to conjure up diverse cultures with my meals.
12. Do you make any DTG recipes at home? If so, what is your family's favorite?
My family has different favorites: my wife likes the Eggplant Parmesan, my son likes the Italian meatball, and my daughter's favorite is the mushroom strata.
13. Do you remember the first meal you cooked for DTG? What was it?
I think the first meal I cooked for DTG may have been the Chana Masala.
14. Are you working on any secret recipes? Can you tell us about one of them?
We are always working on new ideas to incorporate in the DTG menu. Right now we're working on an Indian spice crusted steak with caramelized onions, sautéed cabbage seasoned with ginger and roasted cumin, accompanied by a fire roasted tomato and cauliflower masala. But shh...don't tell anyone!
15. What is one thing you wish everyone knew about DTG?
I want everyone to know how good and satisfying healthy food can taste!
Author: Lillie Lancaster