Around the Dinner Table

A Very Special Cooking Class Focused on Healthy Foods and Delicious Ingredients at Haven’s Kitchen

Last month, The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign had the pleasure of visiting the famed Haven’s Kitchen, a culinary oasis located in the heart of New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, for a special cooking class designed around healthy, clean eating. Mawhinney’s for a one-on-one chat on all things cooking, healthy meal tips and how to recreate the amazing menu he taught us during our memorable class. See below for our Q&A and recipes from the menu:

HK_photo_0062What are 5 ingredients that someone who is a caretaker of a breast cancer patient should always have in their kitchen to cook with?

DM: “In stocking a fridge or pantry for a caregiver of a cancer patient, I would recommend the following, which is not far off what I’d recommend for most people to eat:

  • Whole Grains
  • Leafy Green Vegetables
  • Ginger
  • Nuts
  • Carrots

You want to avoid rich, fat red meat and try and stick to oily fish for protein. Nuts also provide a good source and can be used as a nut butter or added into a pesto or sauce.”

If you found out a loved one was diagnosed with breast cancer, what would you make them and why?

DM: “I think that besides a healthy meal, the important thing would be that the food comforts them. Chicken soup is a great example of this. The broth is easy to swallow and digest, the chicken itself has a lot of protein and low fat, and the vegetables provide a good source of fiber. To this, you could also add some ginger for added benefit, or whole grains and make the soup more of a full meal.

There is often a difference in eating habits based on what stage of recovery. Right after a surgery, the body needs extra calories to aid the healing process, but this is also often coupled with a loss of appetite. In this case, you want to have smaller, higher protein meals more often, so that eating is quicker but has a big impact. Having healthy snacks around, like nuts or fresh fruit or vegetables is great. They have great health benefits and allow the body to digest the smaller amounts with ease, and also helps to avoid long stretches of time where the stomach gets hungry.”

HK_photo_0128What are some easy and quick recipes that you can share with us?  

DM: “See attached PDF for shared recipes from class”

Can’t forget about dessert, our favorite meal! What’s the best cancer-friendly dessert recipe that you can share with us?

DM: “I’d go traditional with the dessert and make something like a fruit pie or galette with ice cream would be a great dessert. Often times the therapy used in treat certain cancers leaves the mouth and throat sore, cold ice cream is a great way to ease that, and hits on that comfort note again.”

We love Haven’s Kitchen’s mission to educate people on how decisions around the food we eat and buy affects so many aspects of one’s lifestyle & health. With so many instructors on-staff with a variety of storied professional and educational pursuits, how did you end up here and what is your area of expertise?

DM: “I came to cooking as a second career after being an accountant for a number of years. The main reason for my switching is that I felt I wasn’t making anything in a physical sense, and cooking proved to be a great output for that need I felt. I came to Haven’s Kitchen and did have to switch up my cooking style to meet the mission and values of HK.

HK_photo_0174I come from a very strong background in classical French cuisine, with rich sauces of cream and butter and large, slow braised pieces of meat. However, I was able to adapt and reach into the lighter side of French cooking, and also to explore the influences of the cooks around me who had a different skill set – Southeast Asian, Mexican or Moroccan.”

Which food myth is one you’d like to debunk?

DM: “I like to debunk the myth that cooking is difficult and time consuming. It can be, but it’s very easy to master a few simple items at home and then slowly expand one’s repertoire and the more often you practice it, the better and faster you’ll become.

I think that home cooks should take a little time and learn how to make 3-4 different simple sauces that allow the meat, fish and vegetables that they already know how to cook to take on a different flavor. Try making a chimichurri or Romesco sauce and add that to the grilled chicken breast that you just mastered.”

What’s your favorite thing to make?

DM: “My favorite things to make are usually dishes with multiple steps; I love the process and assembly. Lasagna is a great example, make the sauce, make the pasta, roll the pasta, and assemble the layers with cheeses, bake and serve. I also love to make chicken pot pie.

A simple, comforting dish, but one that I love to teach novice cooks as it teaches pastry with the crust, sauce making with the béchamel, trussing and roasting a chicken, a variety of knife cuts with the vegetables, and finally how to work on timing, assembling and balancing a dish. Once you have those basics, then you can push yourself further.”

HK_photo_0151What’s your favorite food?

DM: “My favorite food (cue the eye roll to chefs everywhere) is sushi. It’s again, a very simple food with a few ingredients, but all those ingredients need to be of such high quality and handle with skill to make them work.

What are some easy to remember cooking advice you can give them?

DM: “My advice is to have fun with food and don’t make it so precious, mistakes are fine, and most people eating it won’t notice. I worked in a fine dining restaurant were the pastry chef got the timing wrong on a soufflé. They told the chef and he turned to the dining room captain that it should be dropped at the table and introduced as a ‘fallen soufflé’ and no one would question it. Good food doesn’t have to be difficult or perfect, the best food comes from someone making it with care and sharing it with others.”

*Please remember to always consult your doctor regarding any potential dietary restrictions

Download recipes from Haven’s Kitchen here.