Classic Spa Cuisine with Chef Chad Luethje
The Chef at Red Mountain Resort, Chef Chad as created delicious, nourishing food in the kitchens of Enchantment Resort, Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa, and Miraval. His approach to cooking reflects his commitment to full-flavored, fresh and healthy cuisine using sustainable local and regional ingredients.
Insider’s: How’d you get your start cooking at spas?
Chad Luethje: I began my spa culinary career in 2004, at Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah. I had been intrigued by the health aspect of food for a couple of years, after having enjoyed a delicious meal at Red Mountain prepared by a former colleague, Jim Gallivan, who was the chef there at the time. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that food could be so tasty, appealing to the eye, and also be good for me, too. That stuck with me over the next couple of years, and when the opportunity presented itself to become the chef at Red Mountain, I jumped at the chance.
Insider’s: What does spa cuisine mean to you?
CL: Spa cuisine means healthy gourmet. Flavor, textures, and appearance are crucial, and the finished product should make you feel good, too. There’s no reason to use the fact that something is good for you as an excuse for lack of flavor or appearance.
Insider’s: Any advice to share on preparing and eating healthier food?
CL: For a lot of people, the thought of cooking healthy food can be intimidating. What I always try to communicate to the guests in my cooking demonstrations and lectures is that cooking healthy is really no different than any other type of cooking; the techniques are the same. If you already know how to sauté, grill, braise, poach, etc, once you know how to shop smart and stock your kitchen with healthy ingredients, you’re well on your way to creating delicious, healthy home cooked meals.
Insider’s: Do you have a favorite personal recipe?
CL: We’ve been playing around with chia seeds lately, and came up with a green smoothie recipe that really hits the spot [see recipe]. Also, for snacking, we usually have a batch of agave-spice candied nuts around to munch on.
Insider’s: What’s your favorite thing about spa cuisine?
CL: My favorite part of spa cuisine is the fact that you have to really think about all the ingredients that are being used to create a dish, and be aware of what health benefits they’re adding to the dish in relation to the calories that they add. It’s not enough to make it taste and look great — the health and nutritional aspect is equally as important.
Insider’s: What ingredients are you most enjoying right now?
CL: Local gala apples from an orchard about 45 minutes up the road from us. There’s nothing quite like the crisp, tart flavor of a fresh picked apple to signal that autumn is here. Chia seeds; I’m loving the texture, not to mention the health benefits. We use them in everything from our green smoothie to gluten free desserts; black kale combined with lemon, fresh garlic, olive oil, Reggiano parmesan, crushed dried chipotle chiles and some gluten-free bread crumbs. It’s a hearty salad that holds up for hours, and also a key ingredient in our green smoothie.
Insider’s: Where do you think the future of spa cuisine is headed?
CL: I think that spa cuisine and mainstream cuisine will continue to gradually merge and intermingle, and eventually healthy eating will be the norm.