Cooking with the Diabetic Chef

In 1993, Chris Smith was a student in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He was 24 years old and working in Manhattan’s four-star Le Cirque restaurant.

He felt exhausted. He lost 30 pounds in about seven months. His doctor chalked it up to his 70- to 80-hour work weeks and sent him on his way. Smith then developed stomach cramps so severe he went back to his doctor and was treated for ulcers he didn’t have. Chris Smith Image

At 105 pounds, Smith was finally diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His doctor told him to give up cooking. The long hours on his feet and rich foods wouldn’t be good for him. Smith thanked the doctor for the advice and found an endocrinologist. He learned about diabetes and how to manage it. He never gave up cooking.

“With proper management – and that’s the key point – this is one of the few diseases that you the patient can actually manage and control. I find that to be one of the most powerful statements,” said Smith, known professionally as The Diabetic Chef.

“With diabetes, you really have a say in it.”

Wyoming Medical Center will host The Diabetic Chef at our Women’s Expo booth Oct. 4-5 at the Casper Events Center. He will teach his method of “template cooking” during two cooking demonstrations, sell and sign copies of his two cookbooks, and answer audience questions at our booth.

After his diagnosis, Smith learned to manage his disease through a healthy diet, exercise and insulin management. His endocrinologist asked him to speak at a diabetes group and Smith demonstrated techniques for healthy, flavorful cooking. He realized he could combine his passions for cooking and education.

Smith forged a relationship with the American Diabetes Association and is now a contributing editor with Better Homes’ Diabetic Living Magazine. He speaks and teaches cooking across the country.

His presentations are not just for those with diabetes. Smith’s wife and two sons do not have the disease, but he does not change how he cooks for them. He cooks healthy meals and everyone benefits.

At the expo, Smith will demonstrate his “template cooking” — meaning people can take the techniques home and apply them to other dishes. His technique for cooking chicken, for example, will work for pork, beef, fish and other meats, he said.

“There is a need for cooking in the house. The fact is people don’t know how to cook anymore. We are a fast food nation,” he said.

“When people feel comfortable with cooking, all of the sudden, through food, they begin to take charge of their health and their nutrition. To simplify it to the core, if people get back home and cooking, they are being proactive in their health and their family’s health.”

Meet the Diabetic Chef

* What: 2013 Women’s Expo, featuring Diabetic Chef Chris Smith at the Wyoming Medical Center booth

* When: 4 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 4 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 5

* Where: Casper Events Center

* Cooking demonstrations: Smith will demonstrate two dishes — Simple Chicken Breast and Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Almonds – both of which are easy and quick enough to make after work. Demonstrations are at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 and 10:30 a.m. Oct. 5 in the Cost Plus Kitchen at the expo.

* At our booth: Smith will sell copies of his cookbooks for $20 at the Wyoming Medical Center booth between demonstrations. We will also be providing free A1c screenings to determine diabetes risk and health fair lab draws at discounted prices. We will also have flu shots for $28 to the first 100 visitors.

* Cost: Expo tickets are $20 for Oct. 4 and include the show by New York City comedian Lisa Landry, $5 for Oct. 5 or $22 for a two-day pass. To order tickets and to see other attractions at the expo, click here.

* Learn more: Follow Chris Smith’s healthy cooking blog, In the Diabetic Chef’s Kitchen, for recipes, tips and more. Learn about his classes and workshops at  Check out Wyoming Medical Center’s full range of diabetes care services here.

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