Chef Robert Wiedmaier had built a career -- and a small restaurant empire -- cooking with butter, cream, and other rich staples of Belgian and French cuisine. And it showed, both on the plates he served and on his own frame.
That is, until his doctor told him it was time to trim the fat.
Wiedmaier, who runs seven restaurants in and around Washington, DC, listened.
Within 7 months, he dropped 36 of his 251 pounds. His diet included lots of Chinese green tea and spinach wraps stuffed with veggies tossed with tzatziki, a sauce made of yogurt, garlic, and cucumbers. Inspired by his own health journey, Wiedmaier opened Wildwood Kitchen to bring his focus on good-for-you food to his customers. He created a Mediterranean-inspired menu that favors olive oil over butter and simple, healthy dishes like his red snapper en papillote. "It's a classic French preparation, but with no butter or cream, it's healthy and cool to do."
His go-to comfort food: "I like a great burrito, filled with slow-roasted pork, black beans, and a little hot sauce. There's something very comforting about eating with my hands."
Where he gets his best recipe ideas: "I should keep a pad of paper by the bed, because I get a lot of ideas in dreams. Also, when I'm relaxing in a hot tub or talking over the menu with my chef de cuisine at Marcel's."
The one lesson he thinks every home cook should learn:"Get to know your fishmonger and your butcher. He will tell you what's freshest that day, to the point where he will even call you and tell you about, say, the beautiful, fresh Monterey squid that's just come in."