Haitian-born Ron Duprat, best known for his appearance on Bravo's hit TV series Top Chef
, will team up with four other contestants on Valentine's Day to raise funds for his native land. The generous chef spoke with ESSENCE.com about his "a-ha" moment to donate, how to save money when dining out, the importance of using extra virgin olive oil and the best ways to purchase healthy items without breaking the bank. ESSENCE.com: As a chef, how do you eat out for cheap and healthy? It seems it is always easier to buy a cheeseburger than a grilled chicken sandwich. RON DUPRAT:
When I dine out, instead of ordering a 10-ounce steak, I would order an 8-ounce to save money. I basically cut the portion in half. I pick restaurants that are focusing on local favor and organic foods. Sometimes people think organic can be expensive, but I think it is the other way around. I would also say to skip the dessert,
and do not use any heavy crmes or butter in your meals. I would agree it is cheaper to buy a cheeseburger, but I would probably order just a plain chicken sandwich without all condiments. ESSENCE.com: And then there's grocery shopping. What is the best way to purchase healthy items without breaking the bank? DUPRAT:
Shop for fresh green vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, chicken breast, turkey, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and sweet potatoes. These are just a few things that are important when shopping.
ESSENCE.com: So what ingredients are least costly but most important in daily cooking? DUPRAT: Extra virgin olive oil. I don't believe it is butter. You can use this for salads, meats and baking. ESSENCE.com: What key steps should people start now to eating healthy and smart? DUPRAT:
Don't skip breakfast. You should eat small portions, drink lots of water and do not use too much sugar. Also, eat seasonal, it is less expensive and super tasty. Do not fry any thing. Use a different cooking method like roasting, broiling or grilling. ESSENCE.com: Any other advice? DUPRAT:
Stay away from pizza! ESSENCE.com: Tell us about Hearts For Haiti. DUPRAT:
On February 14th, some of the world famous and celebrity chefs and their restaurants will join me with American dining relief benefit dinner to donate 5 to 10 percent of their proceeds to Hearts for Haiti. The donated funds will be divided among two charities helping the people and animals of Haiti. The organizations are Hollywood United for Haiti and Kinship Circle Disaster Relief. One hundred percent of the donated funds will go directly to on-the-ground relief efforts. ESSENCE.com: When did you have that a-ha moment to help out? DUPRAT:
I was very touched when I saw Sean "Puffy" [Combs] come out to support Haiti. I mean, you are talking about a man who has nothing to do with Haiti but stood up for us. I said, "How can I do the same?" I am a chef, so I figured that's how I could give. Check out a Quick Jambalaya recipe from Hillshire Farms!