Cooking Your Way to a New Life: Q&A with Dean Sheremet

Chef Dean Sheremet's new cookbook, Eat Your Heart Out features easy recipes with whole, natural ingredients. We caught up with him recently to talk about his divorce from LeAnn Rimes, his favorite post work-out snack and why he can't live without a Vitamix.
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For recipes from Dean Sheremet's new cookbook, Eat Your Heart Out, click here.

Dean Sheremet was known for being country singer LeAnn Rimes’ ex-husband and former manager. But today, he’s better known for his esteemed role in the culinary industry. He’s worked at the New York hotspot Nobu 57, Michelin-rated Jean-Georges, appears regularly on television and has just released his first cookbook, Eat Your Heart Out.

We had the chance to speak with Sheremet about his new book, which opens with a personal introduction about his divorce with Rimes. The introduction gives the book a human element, which he says is meant to attract anyone looking to hit the restart button. The pages to follow contain everything from recipes for smoothies, to make-ahead sauces, to guilt-free indulgences.

You begin Eat Your Heart Out with a personal introduction about your divorce with LeAnn Rimes. Is this something you struggled with deciding if you wanted to include in the book or not?

Most definitely. I think that I started out writing this book and it felt very surface, and it didn’t really talk about who I was or where I came from, and I think that’s an interesting part of the story. Obviously it’s not the whole story of the book, but it was a big part of how I got to the place to be able to write this book. It was the first step when I had to kind of go through a very crappy life event. It was an opportunity for me to hit the reset button, so I think that was a very important step in the road that led to me going to culinary school, working at Nobu, working at Jean Georges, doing it at a very high level. It was all the bricks in the road that kind of led me to have a really cool, complete story for Eat Your Heart Out.

How is Eat Your Heart Out a cookbook for anyone looking for any kind of fresh start, not just a fresh start after the end of a relationship?

It’s a really great book for anyone, whether you’ve gone through a breakup, or you’ve lost a family member, or you’ve kind of just fallen off the rails a little bit...I just really encourage people to eat consciously, and think about what you’re eating, and this book has 150 options for you to eat really high quality food.

In Chapter 1, you admit to having a past addiction to kitchen tools and appliances, but recommend your readers don’t buy every gadget out there because ultimately it can be a waste of money and space. Despite this, and regardless of price, what is one tool or appliance that you think everyone should have in their kitchen?

I would say the highest quality blender. I would say a Vitamix is my go-to thing that I love. I’m not endorsed by them, so I’m not just pushing them. It’s one of those tools – I make a smoothie almost every day – and there’s a million things you can do between smoothies, sauces, soups. You can make flour. It’s amazing what that blender can do, so I think that’s probably my go-to. And you can make cocktails in there too!

In Chapter 2, you include healthy comfort food recipes. What’s your advice to someone whose comfort food is something like cookie dough or Doritos?

I don’t like the vilification of food. We put so much stress on food being good foods or bad foods. Obviously there are foods that are better for us. Cookie dough may have a place in your diet, but it shouldn’t be at the forefront of your diet.... That means cutting out those cookie doughs, cutting out those Doritos, and focusing on, there’s a really beautiful lasagna I have – it’s a Butternut Squash Lasagna. Instead of having the pasta noodles, you have slices of butternut squash. You get that feel of the food that is indulgent, but you’re kind of teaching yourself to eat better while doing.

You also have a chapter about foods that are good for fitness. What kinds of foods do you recommend people eat before working out?

That’s a case-by-case basis, because some people don’t like to eat before they work out. Personally, I like something that has a good amount of slow burning carbs. I have a really great Paleo granola in there. It has some fast carbs, some slow carbs, and there’s a chia pudding I put it on. I call it a Paleo parfait. That’s pretty much all I do before I work out.

What about after a workout?

After a workout, I always tell everyone for me, that’s the time when you want to get those carbs in. I think people try to cut carbs out completely, and I’m talking about your quality carbs, like your sweet potatoes, and all of those really dense carbohydrates – even whole wheat pasta or something like that – should come after a workout.... You’re not going to want to obviously eat a bowl of pasta when it’s 6 p.m. or 5 p.m., and you’re sitting at your desk at the office. It’s trying to find the times when that food is going to fuel you for the task at hand.

What is one smoothie in the book that tastes so good that you wouldn’t be able to guess how good it is for you?

I would say the Chocolate Avocado Smoothie. It’s a very weird combination, and it sounds gross in a weird way, but the fat in the avocado and the raw cacao has got this awesome chocolaty, but also earthy green, delicious flavor.

A common reason people say they don’t eat health foods is because they don’t have enough time to cook. In Chapter 6, you address this by offering “dinner in a flash” recipes. Along with recommending recipes with short prep and hands-on time, do you have any general tips for people that struggle with finding the time to cook a healthy meal?

I’m a big pre-planner. Everyone talks about not having time, but there’s always an hour, not necessarily in every day, but there’s some time on the weekend when you’re probably watching Netflix, or even while you’re watching Netflix, you can prep yourself three or four sauces that can go in the freezer or the fridge. So, when you come home during a really busy day, you will have stuff on hand so you’re going to make better decisions. Even if I do have something on in the background that I’m listening to or watching, I try to just bang out a few of those essential sauces that are the basics in the front of the book, so I can have a delicious meal in ten minutes.

How many times a week is it okay to have dessert with dinner?

It depends on what your version of dessert is. I think there’s always room for fresh fruit. The chia pudding that I talked about earlier is a great breakfast food – it also kind of gives you that sweet dessert feeling. I think there’s always room for something sweet, but I don’t think that eating a piece of cake everyday is probably going to do wonders for you in the long run.

Do you have a favorite gluten-free recipe in the book?

My favorite gluten-free recipe is also one of the most over-the-top recipes. It’s the gluten-free chicken and waffles – Japanese Fried Chicken. I actually created it for a client who was gluten-free and loves chicken and waffles and was trying to find a healthier way. So, I took the waffles and I amped them up using matcha and a really nice gluten-free flour.

For recipes from Dean Sheremet's new cookbook, Eat Your Heart Outclick here.