One of the best meals I’ve ever had was during the book release of Chef Hubert Keller’s book, Souvenirs: Stories & Recipes from My Life, at the beautiful Fleur restaurant in Las Vegas, NV. Now, if you haven’t had the chance to dine at Fleur, let me give you a couple of reasons why I enjoy it there so much.
Believe it or not, it’s a place made up of fighters. Yes, fighters. Even the Master Chef of 40 years can throw swift, quick punches from his Southpaw stance. Chef Lupe Avila makes some of the best cochinita pibil (an extraordinary dish from Yucatan, Mexico) and had stepped foot in the ring against former WBC featherweight boxing world champion, Gabriel Ruelas.
Worried about security? Not a problem. About 50% of the staff has a martial arts background. Their genuine hospitality and etiquette are backed with the humble ways of the warrior. I haven’t even talked about their lovely landscape or food yet, but one can imagine how a fellow fighter can appreciate the ambiance of Fleur.
Now, about the food…
The food is quite interesting. Its unique, simple, and lean combinations leaves one with delight and curiosity. Have you tried: Burrata cheese with Sweet Pea Ice Cream? Orange butter sauce? Merlot and Vanilla sauce with lamb chops? Or Pineapple Carpaccio with Cilantro Granita? Such flavors can leave a hungry participant satisfyingly full with a comfortably lite feeling.
Here’s an excerpt on Chef Keller’s technique for leaner cooking options:
“We adapted our menu to the health-oriented style of eating in California and to utilize the rich availability of local ingredients…I decided to base the menu on a leaner cuisine, opting for organic produce and free-range meats whenever possible. Our well-informed, health-conscious guests encouraged me to continue with this approach.
In my recipes, I use butter and cream in relatively few dishes. When I do use them, it’s only in limited amounts, and certainly in far smaller quantities than the classic recipes call for. Instead, I use many different nonfat flavorings and thickening agents, such as fresh herbs, spices, reduced broths or stocks, pureed roasted garlic, pureed vegetables, and flavored oils and vinegar.
I also use simple standard techniques, such as using nonstick pans and kitchenware and spray bottles to dispense oil sparingly, to adjust traditional recipes so they are keeping with contemporary health concerns. When combined, these concepts–using updated techniques to create healthful, flavorful and often vegetarian food in the French style–define my philosophy.” The Cuisine of Hubert Keller by Hubert Keller
As of late, many of the top chefs appear healthy and manage to stay trim. What I’ve witnessed from hanging out with top culinary artists is having balance. I used to measure my sugar, salt, and fat intake and followed “diets” from the advice of nutritionists. In the business that I’m in, “making weight” is a job requirement. Standing on the scale has never been a problem for me, except in-between fights. After a fight and after weeks of counting calories, I would throw out the record books and EAT, EAT, and EAT.
There was a time when my 122lbs. frame–that I worked so hard on–would flare up to over 140lbs.! It took only one week. The time it took to take the weight off: MONTHS. After meeting Chefs like Hubert Keller, I eventually learned that my eating habits should be natural and enjoyable. Good food, complimented with a balanced lifestyle (e.g., working out, being around positive people, keeping a cheerful attitude, etc.), equals manageable weight practices. The Way of the Chef inhabits a healthy way of life.
Inspired by Chef Keller’s philosophies, I picked up a copy of Souvenirs and tried a recipe. One of my favorites is the Crab and Avocado Salad with Watermelon Gazpacho. Here’s my homemade version.
What’s your “Way of Food”?
Fleur by Hubert Keller, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, 3950 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119, (702) 632-9400