Scott Leibfried's Tips for Reviving Your Meals

Scott Leibfried, a chef and culinary consultant who has participated on "Hell’s Kitchen" and the "Food Network Challenge," is now the restaurateur behind Reviver, a New York joint dedicated to balanced, nutritious, clean food. He joins the Clever Cookstr to talk about making delicious food healthy.

Kara Rota
5-minute read
Episode #13

Our guest on the Clever Cookstr today is Scott Leibfried, a chef and culinary consultant who you might know from his work hosting and participating on shows like "Hell’s Kitchen" and the "Food Network Challenge." Scott is now the restaurateur behind Reviver, a New York joint dedicated to balanced, nutritious, clean food. Today he’s joining us to talk about making delicious food healthy.;

CC: Scott, your job as a chef involves creating balanced, healthy, whole food takes on recipes that people will love. What are some tricks for how you do that?

SL: We took a little bit of a different approach. Most competitors, and most people, would actually say, 'Well, how do we make a chicken parmesan healthy? How do we make a cheeseburger healthy?' The reality is that you can, but it’s not going to taste very good. So we took an entirely different approach, not even considering any of that, and we started with four food principles: balanced, nutritious, clean, and pure.

And then we built menu items and recipes around those four principles. So we have a fantastic curry dish, a great barbecue chicken dish. We have a real classic riff on just a plain old roasted chicken; ours is rice, spinach, broccoli rabe, and grilled chicken, and lemon sauce and mushrooms. So we really didn’t take food that was out there, popular foods, and make them healthy. We actually took inspiration from popular dishes, and then really went to work on having them fit the four food principles--and then taste great.

CC:  I know a big part of your mission is balance. Creating meals that supply the right amount of all the different nutrients. How can listeners learn how to do that in a home kitchen?

SL: Well, it was the hardest part that we had to do, in order to make the recipes compliant--but then they also had to taste good. At first, we usually found ourselves with one or the other! We'd have a perfectly balanced meal, but it was horrible and nobody wanted to eat it. Or vice versa: it would be so delicious, but so out of compliance that we couldn’t do it.

So really, after a long learning process, we just knew that we had to have proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. We had to have vitamins. We had to have fruits and vegetables. We had to have omega 3s. So really, just identify those ingredients, and then really go to work on the dish. For one of our salad dishes, when it came to the fruits and vegetables, it was roasted cauliflower and dried apricots together--which not only taste great together, but then you have a balance of fruit and vegetables, as well as different flavors.

CC: And how do you approach the concept of moderation? When people are trying to eat differently, revamp their diet, do you believe in the concept of a "cheat meal" or a "cheat day," or is it really about making permanent changes?

SL: I don’t think anything when it comes to eating is changed for good. For me, as a clasically-trained professional chef, I ate indulgent food for a very long time, and I got past it a one point because I’d had enough of it. You know, how many pieces of foie gras can you have? Really, in one life? I still appreciate it and look forward to it, but I now find that because I work all the time, I eat Reviver food all the time. And we are constantly in development with new dishes, so this is the way I eat now, and I feel great. I’ve never felt better. But when I go out on a Saturday night for a rib eye steak, it never tasted so good! So I think moderation is great, but I do think the indulgent has to be in there, too.


About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.