Tennessean Article

Chef Holly Heath’s joy is helping others

November 17, 2010


Before cooking, Holly Heath worked in corporate accounting at Enron. Yes, Enron. But after the company crumbled around her — and after she won a scholarship to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York — Heath turned from numbers on spreadsheets to those on measuring cups.

These days, Heath serves as a resource through her in-home personal chef services and cooking classes for people struggling with food allergies.

How did you learn to cook?
On the technical side, I learned by studying at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. On the personal side, I really learned to cook from my father. My father was the best cook I have ever known. He taught me to not only love working with food, but to love the gift and get true pleasure out of feeding others.

How did you end up specializing in gluten-free food?
When I moved to Nashville almost three years ago, I became increasingly fatigued and experienced a host of other painful symptoms. About a year and a half ago, I found out the culprit was a gluten allergy. (Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley and rye that is present in many foods.)

I knew by experiencing it firsthand how painful, even debilitating, food allergies can be. Through this, it’s become my mission to help others, whether it is those with celiac disease, those affected by autism, or those who just want to avoid gluten.

Tell us about one of your favorite gluten-free dishes.
Chicken marsala. It was a favorite dish of mine prior to my allergy, and I have learned through substituting gluten-free ingredients it can be just as delicious.

What could we always find in your home refrigerator?
Lemons and limes, Dijon mustard, garlic and white wine (for cooking, of course!).

What ingredients could you not live without?
Gluten-free flour, tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), gluten-free chicken broth, Celtic sea salt.

If you could choose your final meal, what would it be?
My final meal would have to be a very simple homemade hamburger and fries. With a gluten-free bun, of course.


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