Chef gets health wake up call: interview with Ken Gordon

portion control is key (photo: laurenbosak via Flickr)

Earlier this year, Ken Gordon of Portland’s Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessen got some unwelcome news: he had Type 2 diabetes.  He was in dubiously good company — Paula Deen famously announced that she has diabetes at about the same time.  He could have gone the Paula Deen route: continue cooking and eating and living the diabetes lifestyle, while keeping the disease a secret.  Maybe even get a lucrative drug spokesperson contract, once his disease became public knowledge.  But he decided on a different approach.  As he put it, 6 hours later he embarked on a new lifestyle, that involved diet and exercise changes.  He also started writing a blog about his experience, and when I spoke with him recently, he’d just gotten some very good news: in 10 short weeks, he’d basically reversed the diabetes.  All his tests were significantly improved.  Of course, Gordon isn’t cured.  Rather, his disease is now under control.  He, and others in his situation, need to maintain the healthy lifestyle changes to maintain the health.

Another good outcome: Ken Gordon took this opportunity to re-imagine how he thinks about restaurant food, and the food served at Kenny and Zuke’s.  While the traditional Jewish deli menu hasn’t been dumped in favor of tofu and sprouts, he has added some lower calorie and healthier items.  We talked about his personal journey, as well as his thoughts on what restaurant chefs could be doing to create healthier menu choices that aren’t just tasteless variations on the regular items, stripped of everything that makes them delicious.  His passion for healthy choices that are flavorful, high quality and worth every penny could be an inspiration for other restauranteurs who still aren’t entirely on the healthy food bandwagon.

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