RANGELEY — Four local chefs will lend their training and experience to educate participants about food preparation and ordering through the Better For Life Food Series classes, being offered in partnership with the Rangeley Better For Life Challenge sponsored by the Rangeley Region Health and Wellness Partnership.
Participants in the classes are offered the chance to learn healthier cooking techniques, selecting ingredients to use in preparing meals and looking at ways to change eating habits for a healthier lifestyle.
The first class in the series was held on March 9 at the Gingerbread House in Oquossoc. The second is scheduled for Tuesday, March 30, at Bald Mountain Camps in Oquossoc, followed by the third class at Loon Lodge on Thursday, April 15. The fourth class will take place at the Country Club Inn on Tuesday, May 11.
“We really want to change people ideas about eating, and we want you to be able to enjoy food,” said Dean Szablewski, executive chef at the Gingerbread House.
Since 1991, Szablewski has worked as a chef, starting at Alpine Rose, owned by Austrian born Chef Herman Schweiger, one of the original chefs at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. He spent six years in the International Apprenticeship Culinary Program, dividing his time between Vienna and the U.S. six months at a time.
In 1994, he returned to the U.S., working the winter seasons at resorts in Vail and the Grand Tetons and in Florida at the Gulfstream Golf Club and Delray Beach Yacht Club in the summer months. Before coming to Rangeley in 2005, he worked at the Westin Hotel in Savannah, Ga.
Szablewski’s views on food are shaped by his experiences in the Far East as a U.S. Marine and his cooking experience in Europe.
Chef Meg Godaire of Bald Mountain Camps began learning her cooking skills at an early age in what she called “a big Italian family” where time in the kitchen was a common occurrence. She gained more experience working her way through college as a chef. For 20 years, Godaire worked at the Farmhouse Inn where she ran her own business. The last 10 years she has worked at Bald Mountain Camps.
Godaire hopes people attending her class will learn to start with a simple approach to preparing food.
“This class really starts with the basics. Everyone should have at least one healthy salad a day with a meal. Good food and good nutrition starts with the basics and good quality ingredients,” she said.
Patrick Friel, executive chef at Loon Lodge since 2008, started his culinary career 22 years ago at the Bethel Inn and Country Club as a line cook, working his way to sous chef in 1993. In 1997, he went to work at the Dockside Restaurant in York as executive chef, followed by six years in the same position at the Grand Summit Hotel at Sunday River.
From 2005 to 2006, he operated a small catering company before being hired by the owners of Loon Lodge as a consultant.
“You really need to watch what you eat and you have to be ingredients conscious. As far as anything processed, it’s not good for you,” he said.
Friel himself is a living example of the results of a healthy eating and active lifestyle, having lost 51 pounds since the middle of last December through a combination of food choices, portion control and exercise.
As part of the educational program Friel plans to offer a healthy dessert option to class participants.
Steve Jamison, executive chef at the Country Club Inn, said, “Smaller portions are certainly important. We tend to super-size everything these days. Fish, fruits and vegetables are much better choices. If you are going to veal or a filet, eight ounces is plenty. Olive oil, vegetables and lean meats all lend themselves to healthy cooking.”
Jamison has overseen the kitchen at the restaurant adjacent to Mingo Springs Golf Course for over two decades. He started cooking in the morning after a chef left the restaurant and progressed to cooking dinners shortly after.
Jamison added that during his years at the Country Club Inn he also has seen a change in the food choices that people order and how they like their food prepared. Last year the restaurant adopted a new menu that included pecan encrusted chicken and petite filet salads and lighter fare to meet their customer’s wishes.
For the cooking class in May the Country Club Inn will offer a program entitled “Cooking In Moderation” which will feature a meal centered on a pan-seared Alaskan salmon dish with black bean relish.
For more information about the Better For Life Food Series classes, contact Lindsay Richards at the Rangeley Region Rehab and Wellness Pavilion at 864-3055.