Chef Marco Canora of the popular New York restaurant Hearth. (Photo courtesy of Marco Canora)
NYC-based chef Marco Canora – a judge on Top Chef and Chopped – has recently reconfigured the entire menu at his James Beard nominated East Village restaurant, Hearth. Marco combed over every single ingredient used, focusing on cutting out highly processed oils, flours, and sugars, and replacing them with better-sourced ingredients like extra-virgin olive oil and honey.
Canora, who’s famous for helping popularize the bone broth trend, believes that high-quality ingredients — free from antibiotics, growth hormones, and other additives — shouldn’t end at main entrée foods, like meat.
“I thought, ‘How can I spend so much time, money, and effort sourcing meats, but not let it bleed into the other things I use, like sugars, flour, and fats?’” Canora tells Yahoo Health.
Marco Canora’s restaurant Hearth, in the East Village in New York City. (Photo: Instagram/Hearth)
To understand how large of an undertaking this was for Canora, it’s important to appreciate how vast of a switch-up this has been. Hearth is now milling its own flour and polenta from grain that hasn’t been genetically modified, their butter is from grass-fed cows, and each dish contains a larger quantity of vegetables. Canora even created an infographic to help explain to his patrons the changes and the basis of his cooking philosophies.
It turns out Hearth isn’t the only restaurant to cultivate a healthier menu. The farm-to-table movement has swept across the industry, allowing NYC restaurants like ABC Kitchen and Blue Hill to pop up offering naturally sourced dishes with locally grown ingredients.
What’s the cause for all these dramatic changes in the restaurant industry, you ask? For Marco Canora, it’s simple: health. Marco told The New York Times that he started to experience a few health concerns such as high cholesterol and gout, and was almost to the point of developing diabetes — all conditions that are closely related to one’s diet.
Canora was right to be concerned about the relationship between diet and health, says integrative medicine expert Taz Bhatia, MD. “We continue to find supporting evidence for the role of processed ingredients in digestive health, obesity, and inflammation,” she says. “The rise in food intolerances, food allergies, and inflammation has been directly connected to the digestive system, which in turn is affected by processed and artificial ingredients.”
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Those aren’t the only health concerns that are associated with overly processed ingredients. “Artificial sweeteners and industrial butters made from high fructose corn syrup are impacting the health of children and adults,” Bhatia tells Yahoo Health. “I see it in practice with everything from ADHD to behavioral issues, hormone imbalances to Alzheimer’s.”
Hearth’s new approach is much bigger in Marco’s eyes than just providing healthier meals to customers; he believes it will also be providing tastier cuisine. “It’s a bit of a mission I’m on, to prove that eating nutrient-dense food doesn’t mean sacrificing anything in the way of flavor,” Canora says. “I would actually argue that it does the opposite, and you gain flavor in each dish.”
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