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Chef's Collaborative

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Welcome Michel!

I've got a clipping from August 2002 Food and Wine where you make three suggestions for low-fat cooking:

1) Buy a juicer.

2) Use tofu.

3) Splurge on olive oil.

I'm good with 1 and 3 but fall short on the tofu. Can you suggest ways I can incorporate tofu into my home cooking where it's an addition, and not the focus?

(EDIT: My question was originally about Chef's Collaborative and how the public can best support it - feel free to answer that one, as well!)

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The question that prompted my suggestion toward tofu was not printed which places my statement in a cloudy context. The writer was asking about animal fats and ways women can get protein when cutting back on meat.

Tofu is not fat-free. In fact, it contains a decent amount of fat. Tofu is an important source of protein for vegetarians and many studies indicate that soy proteins and estrogens are beneficial to women. I read the article and flinched just a touch because I felt it might give the impression that I'm a tofu fanatic, which I'm not. In fact, tofu is not on our menu regularly.

I do enjoy prepared tofu, especially that served in some Chinese restaurants in the form of freshly steamed soy curd served with ginger syrup. We used to have a dish that featured silken tofu, which I glazed with a reduced tamari and cane juice simple syrup. I sliced a 1/2" slice of tofu with a cheese wire, laid it on a broiler tray and spooned the syrup on top. I refrigerated it for an hour, spooned more syrup on top, then broiled it until the glaze caramelized and the tofu jiggled like warm creme caramel. Interestingly, the flavor and texture is comfortingly similar to warm creme caramel. Tofu is also an excellent addition to any Asian style noodle dish. Medium firm tofu can be marinated with tamari and miso, then grilled and added to salads or vegetable sautes.

Liza, thanks for asking about Chef's Collaborative. I am on the Board of overseers and have been a member since the early '90s. Chef's Collaborative celebrates local, seasonal and artisanal producers and foods, while doing our best to openly discuss - with our colleagues and guests - the food issues we face daily.

Because chefs feed thousands of people every year, many are aware of the impact of our purchasing decisions on our customers and the environment. We often risk losing business by deselecting foods that are popular with the dining public at large - like Chilean Sea Bass. Many take issue with our beliefs by mis-portraying the Collaborative as a group of fear-mongers who are using statements about protecting species as marketing ploys.

I like to point out that with the restaurant business operating at substantially lower profit margins than those of most businesses, it is not a good marketing decision to remove a profitable, high-selling item from a menu for any reason - let alone spending considerable time and labor to find sustainable alternatives. This helps explain our commitment to the preservation of responsibly managed farmland, family farmers, and species of animals that can easily become extinct as a result of over-consumption. The best way to support the work of Chef's Collaborative is to patronize restaurants whose chefs are members.

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