She's been featured in movies, on television, and in magazines. But on Friday, Chef Traci Des Jardins cooked before a live audience, at a hospital. Though the toughest question at her restaurant might be which wine to pair with dinner, the crowd Friday was looking for answers to a different dilemma. One event attendee asked, "How do you eat healthy when you have a little bit of money, when gas is five dollars, and you've got so many other priorities of survival in life?"
And that is why San Francisco General Hospital brought in a celebrity chef and pulled away the ribbon on the newly donated demonstration kitchen. Now, every Thursday afternoon, the hospital will open its doors to the community and turn its attention from treating diseases to preventing them.
"Diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, the list goes on and on. And these are diseases that in large part can be prevented with a healthy diet," said HeartBeets co-founder Michelle Schneidermann, MD
Des Jardins puts an emphasis on avoiding processed food, showing you can make a meal from fresh ingredients for just a few dollars, "It's not an organic chicken, it's not a fancy chicken, but it's a chicken, you know, that is a whole piece of meat, and that's just a lot better for you than something that you're gonna buy in the frozen food department that has all these chemicals and stuff on it."
Some of the produce for the cooking demonstrations is about as fresh and local as you can get, grown in the garden on the third floor roof of the hospital.
The vegetables are already given out to chronic disease management patients. But now they'll come packaged with inspiration from some of the Bay Area's most notable chefs, "That they can buy food that is affordable for their families and that they can feed them healthy alternatives to fast food and these products that are making Americans obese," asid Des Jardins.