I admit it- I am a food snob. When I cook, I like using fresh ingredients – and I prefer if I can find them from some place local. But on occasion I like it when someone else cooks – and part of the fun is finding restaurants that serve great food that is made fresh daily.
I am a fan of the television program by Gordon Ramsay called Kitchen Nightmares. In that show various restaurants contact him because their business is dying, and they need help. I noticed some similar themes in all of his shows:
(a) The kitchen has to be clean
(b) The food is fresh and made to order – not “frozen”
(c) The items on the menu are not many – but what is there is made so that the restaurant can easily make it fresh in the kitchen for the patron
We live in a time when few people cook – and while kitchen appliances are trending to look more like restaurant appliances, fewer and fewer people cook– as a result more are eating out. So, when eating out I have a few simple rules:
(a) No fast food – if you are served in a car window the food can’t be that good.
(b) No chain restaurants. I have yet to find a chain that goes out of its way to get fresh local ingredients and make them up quickly
(c) develop a sense of the food you like- and if you can- learn to cook it. If you just are not going to cook- then find a restaurant you can use as a standard and taste great food. Once you have the taste for great food- mediocre just won’t do
One of my favorite restaurants in Phoenix is Tarbell’s. Not only is the food fresh, but even the mozzarella is made daily. This is a good restaurant for standards in Phoenix.
My wife is in her final days of pregnancy, so she was in the mood for a good pasta. We have a few favorite places for that (in a very limited amount- pasta should never be a main course). We went to La Fontenella – which has been in Phoenix for over 20 years. It was a disappointment. The mozzarella was not fresh- it was probably purchased. The chicken was overcooked, the pasta was overdone. I almost wanted to give them Gordon Ramsay’s contact information. Still people ate there- and enjoyed it- but such places do not last long when they compete with great places close by.
Great food is simple: fresh, local ingredients, small portions. Find some great restaurants and enjoy eating out. But beware: a reputation of a restaurant does not make food great. Beware of chains and fast food places, the meal will never be as good, or as good for you, as the real thing.
Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.