For many of us, eating isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get us wrong, eating is a wonderful experience, but within the confines of the daily grind sometimes it can become a chore to plan out what to cook, figure out how to eat (sort-of) healthy, balance eating healthy with still enjoying food and trying to cook what’s in season.
Do any of these issues resonate with you? So to help us get our food troubles sorted, we’ve interviewed our very own Chef Michael Schmutzer to get his input on all things food-related.
Meet Michael Schmutzer, Executive Chef at Doral Arrowwood, a Benchmark Hospitality International Conference Center & Hotel in Rye Brook. Chef Michael began his career in his native Austria and neighboring Switzerland where he earned his advanced Culinary Degree. Chef Michael is all about cuisine – tasteful, thoughtful, and even charitable, cuisine. Not only does he know food, but he’s also a marathon runner. To raise money for his 2014 Boston Marathon Race, he started a Fundraiser for the Food Bank for Westchester in 2014 to raise awareness of Hunger in Westchester County.
Since then Chef Michael has been exploring other ways to share and make the local community better, and today he’s doing by guiding us through some of the daily food struggle many of us experience.
Interview with Doral Arrowwood Chef Michael Schmutzer
Q: Chef Michael, when it comes to eating more health-minded, what are some general tips or rules people can follow (according to your expertise)?
Moderate intake, known as portion control. Make time – try to avoid the “Grab and run” system. The real flavor of cooking happens through slow cooking. For example, braising can develop such amazing flavors where additional salt sugar, etc. are not needed anymore. In this way, the original ingredients become healthier since there’s no reason to add some of the less healthy additives.
A balanced meal plan (and it starts with your kid’s lunch box) at least in my house.
Switch things up – don’t fall into a routine, eat seasonal (it just tastes better), give every food group a chance to represent on your plate.
I just started reading this book “Run Fast. Eat Slow” by Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky and as a long distance runner myself it reflects well on the importance to take time to cook, and ultimately enjoy your meal in good company.
Q: Are there any certain food groups to eat more or less of?
A: I love my cured meats & artisan cheeses, some fig chutney, and a gluten free cracker, oh I almost forgot a glass of Pinot Noir. Let’s see which groups were left out.
Well as my calorie intake fluctuates depending on where I am in my latest marathon training, I crave carbs.Yet there are so many alternative sources of that.
Rather than the traditional gluten carbs, consider substituting polenta, gluten free pasta, Peruvian corn (very starchy and delicious when boiled and grilled).
All in all, I would not focus on which food group to exclude, yet find a way to include them all throughout my daily diet.
I also recommend, if possible, building a garden and planting things. It may just rekindle a lost love for a vegetable that you grew up with.
Q: Since it’s winter, what sort of produce do you recommend people try to shop for and cook with?
A: Slow braised leeks; raw brussel sprout leaves tossed into a traditional Caesar; use broccoli instead of cabbage for a slaw and add cranberries and pistachios; roasted curried cauliflower with extra virgin olive oil; Apple Strudel (Hudson Valley boasts one of the finest selections) to create my all-time favorite dessert from my native Austria; Golden or red beets – high in fiber and vitamin C, roasted and tossed with fresh goat cheese and a peasant bread crostini (yum!)
Q: What are your favorite dishes/foods to eat this time of year?
My family and I really love home cooking and aim to sit at the dinner table as often as all of our busy schedules allow us. May it be roasted butternut squash soup (recipe at the end of article) hearty soups or even stews. Pulling out the crockpot and coming home to an awesome aroma and a finished meal with only one pot to clean up – that’s a win.
I like to throw free range chicken with Parsnips, yams, potatoes, carrots, onions all on one roasting pan and the juices of the chicken infuse the root vegetables as it slowly roasts in the oven. Again, that was just one roasting pan. Easy cleanup, delicious flavors, and a healthy meal.
Q: Do you have a favorite recipe you can share with the readers?
A: That is such a great idea, as it happens, many of my recipes, especially the ones I grew up with, mostly exist in my head. As I re-create them now with my daughter, I become more aware of the need to actually write them down.
Chef Michael was kind enough to share two recipes with us so that we might get a chance to recreate some of the deliciousness that comes out of his kitchen!
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Granny Smith Apples Recipe
3 Butternut squash, cut in ½, roasted until soft
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled, cut into large cubes
2 Onions, peeled, cut into large dice
1 Carrot peeled, diced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, diced
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
¼ Cup Maple syrup
3 Cinnamon sticks
2 Vegetable broth
Salt & Pepper
Preheat oven to 300 F
Cut butternut squash in half, remove seeds, drizzle with olive oil, and place open side down on sheet tray and roast
Bake until soft (approx. 35 min)
Remove from oven; bring to room temperature, and scoop squash with a spoon (this step can be done a couple of days prior – refrigerate Squash puree)
In a large stock pot sauté onions until translucent, add carrots, apples, squash, potatoes, cinnamon sticks and water
Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 min or until all ingredients are soft
Remove cinnamon stick before blending
Puree/blend with a kitchen blender until smooth
Season with salt, pepper, and maple syrup to taste
Small diced apples & sour cream as garnish
Toasted & Chopped walnuts or pecans
Serve it in a small pumpkin with sour cream & cinnamon
Austrian Palatschinken Recipe
1 cups milk
¾ cup flour + 1 tbsp. Flour
1 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Cooking oil spray
Combine milk, flour, sugar and salt until smooth.
Now add the eggs one by one and stir until combined.
Heat a sauté pan (about 8- 12 inch in diameter) over medium-high heat, using the cooking oil spray for ease of use.
Add 1/4 cup of batter to the hot pan and swirl pan to make each Palatschinken (very thin crepe-like).
Once golden brown (about 1 minute) flip and brown on the other side.
Repeat with remaining batter,
Serve rolled and filled with delicious apricot jam or even slow sautéed cinnamon flavored apple chunks.
A Sunday favorite in my house, try it sometime with your kids, my daughter loves it.
Michael Schmutzer is the Executive Chef at Doral Arrowwood. Mr. Schmutzer offers international experience in all aspects of cooking, including successful advancements at Four/ Five Star Diamond restaurants, hotels & resorts. It has been a privilege to have him as a key member of our staff.
We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know the Doral Arrowwood Chef, Michael Schmutzer, a little better. We invite you to enjoy his cuisine in person when you visit!