Though he’s cooked for a long list of chefs and celebrities, Chef Martin Oswald, owner of Pyramid Bistro in Aspen, is proudest to have cooked for doctors Joel Fuhrman, Deepak Chopra, Colin Campbell and Alejandro Junger. These men are his “heroes” – leaders in the field of nutrition. Their work, in part, inspired Chef Oswald to create his nutritarian restaurant, Pyramid. Though Oswald started cooking in his native Austria, the cooking he’s “doing at Pyramid Bistro has very little do with Austrian cuisine,” unless you count the fact that he grew up adjacent to a health resort that specialized in clean eating and served as lifelong culinary inspiration. “I was drawn to a futuristic style of cooking,” the Chef said. After working briefly as a pastry chef, Oswald cooked at a variety of important European health spas. When he moved to America he found healthy options lacking. This was back in the early ‘90s, before superfoods like quinoa and kale became trendy. It was not until he found himself in the kitchen at Wolfgang Puck’s San Francisco-based Postrio that Oswald was again inspired by healthy cuisine. There, salad accompanied all entrees and there was a strong Asian influence.
The Chef’s new love of haute cuisine took him to Paris, Bangkok and Beijing. Ultimately, he landed in Colorado, first in Vail and then in Aspen. It also led him to cooking rich, caloric crowd pleasers. By then, he “had worked for maybe 20 years in the high food industry,” at the end of which he opened two restaurants within three weeks of each other. It was stressful and he “practiced mindless eating.” Chefs don’t necessarily eat the best food, warns Oswald, because they’re tasting all day long. As he struggled with his weight, Oswald rediscovered healthy eating and the path to Pyramid.
As he sat across from me in the bistro, I asked him about the tension between cooking healthy and pleasing patrons’ palates. “I’m not sure if you can honestly, sincerely say that healthy food in its pure form is a crowd pleaser,” explained Oswald. “I wouldn’t necessarily say you can mix the two.” The chef does cook rich foods when he caters or competes in cooking competitions, but “health food you have to offer separately.” That being said, he offers both on the menu. Chef Oswald knows all about what’s good for you – it’s “nutrient dense foods” and, if you eat at Pyramid Bistro, you’ll find that eating this way is not only healthy but also delicious.
A few more questions…
RW: What is in your refrigerator at home?
MO: My wife actually goes and does all the shopping for us at home and we are really just shopping exclusively at Whole Foods. What you will find is a ton of berries…and my wife actually makes homemade muesli. I really, really go with the season so in the winter you’ll find butternut squash, parsnip, carrots, fennel and beets.
RW: What is your favorite thing to eat?
MO: As a chef, I eat so many diverse foods, so I’m not really a person who eats just one item. I eat something different every day. Fortunately in the kitchen I have access to 50 different foods that are already preset.
RW: What is the best advice you could give to someone cooking at home?
MO: Cook more in larger portions because you can always cook a ragout or something simple and freeze some of it up… you only lose 5-10 percent of nutritional content when you freeze something. Freeze it up and you already set your week up with it. The trick is, when you take that African sweet potato ragout out of the freezer, you also want to have a little bit of Swiss chard at home or kale and you can either steam some into it or heat up your ragout and make a fresh salad on top of it. So you can always have a meal that is plant-based, you have less stress, you can spend more time with your friends and family members…and still enjoy nutrient dense foods.”
Originally published on cuative.com.