Brentwood Home Page Article

‘In the Kitchen with …’ goes gluten free

By Susan Leathers

A personal chef. The notion of having one sounds wonderful. Being one isn’t so bad either. Holly Heath has been working full-time in kitchens for eight years, after reprioritizing her life when former employer Enron imploded. The former corporate accountant decided to follow her real passion and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in New York.

She returned to Houston, Texas to pursue her new vocation. Five years ago change came again after Hurricane Katrina displaced her extended family, many of whom lived in Louisiana, to Kentucky. She has spent the past two-and-a-half years building her AT Your Table Personal Chef Service and reputation here. That has included TV appearances on Tennessee Mornings and Talk of the Town and leading cooking classes. She has several of those coming up. The first is Thursday at the Cool Springs’ Whole Foods store. The second is Wednesday, Sept. 22, at the Brentwood Library.

Holly’s appearance at the library follows several other “In the Kitchen with…” classes the Concord Road library has sponsored in the past year, further redefining its role in the community.

“The Brentwood Library is a gathering place,” Library Director Susan Earl said. “We are fortunate to have wonderful partnerships with local chefs and grocery stores to provide quality instructors to our community.

“Our ‘In the Kitchen with…’ series has proven very popular over the last year. From preparing holiday food gifts to canning this year’s peaches, there’s a lot of variety available.  Whole Foods has been a fantastic support as well, sharing samples of products from around the world.”

Gluten-free cooking, which is gaining interest across the country, is the focus of her September classes. The subject’s become a personal passion ever since she discovered her own allergy to gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. She quick to note, however, that she can cook anything for clients, and does.

Gluten has been linked to a variety of digestive diseases and many people are starting to limit their consumption of it or give it up entirely, she said. For those worried about given up fiber, Holly explained you “not cutting back on fiber, just what provides it.”

“What I’m trying to tell people is all you have to do is substitute,” she said. “You can eat what other people do.”

At Whole Foods, Holly plans to feature “great classic pizza crust, a seafood fettuccini, a ‘green shake,’ and maybe a Panini.”

At the library, the menu is likely to include Cold Quinoa Salad. Quinoa is “an ancient grain that’s easy to prepare. It’s gluten-free and high in protein too.” She said she plans to bring some of her favorite gluten-free products to share with the class too.

The 90-minute Whole Foods classes are held in the store’s upstairs demonstration kitchen. They’re free “and you get to taste everything,” Holly said.

She expects the library classes to run about the same length, but added, “I’ll talk until they kick me out!”

So what does a personal chef do when she’s not teaching classes? For Heath, it means a variety of things. She does currently serve as a “personal chef” preparing meals for a prominent Nashville family, but she also has designed “Dinners in a Dash Cooking Parties” and one-on-one and kids cooking classes. She also caters small dinner or cocktail parties.

To learn more, or to be in touch with Holly, contact her at atyourtablepcs@comcast.net and sign up for her monthly e-letter. If you want more information on gluten-free living, check out her Gluten Free in Tennessee blog at www.glutenfreetn.com.

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