Former Greenbrier chef now stars in 'Recipe Rehab'
In this Aug. 18, 2013 photo provided by Trium Entertainment, Lewisburg, W. Va., resident Rich Rosendale poses in front of a Recipe Rehab sign at the studios in Calabasas, Calif. Rosendale, one of TV’s newest celebrity chefs, says his greatest challenges come on the set of "Recipe Rehab," a Saturday morning show that begins airing Sept. 28 on CBS. (AP Photo/Trium Entertainment, Venessa Stump)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — He's competed in the culinary Olympics, led a team at a global cooking competition in France and produced countless photo-worthy dishes for guests at southern West Virginia's world-class resort, The Greenbrier.
But Richard Rosendale, one of TV's newest celebrity chefs, says his greatest challenges come on the set of "Recipe Rehab," a Saturday morning show that begins airing Sept. 28 on CBS.
On the show, families submit a favorite high-calorie recipe. Two chefs then compete to crank out healthier, lower-calorie versions — and make them easy for amateurs to duplicate.
"Some of the recipes taste really good, but they're laden with fat and sugar and sodium and calories," Rosendale said. "Every recipe that was on the show, it was like, 'Yikes! This is going to be interesting.'"
Rosendale, U.S. captain for the international competition Bocuse d'Or in France earlier this year, faces off against California chef Vikki Krinsky throughout 11 episodes.
"Though I have a lot of competition experience, she's an expert in nutrition. And here I am cooking with butter," Rosendale said. "But it was an even playing field."
They shot four episodes a day, a pace requiring snap decisions on how to rehabilitate a meal.
The importance of his work was never lost on Rosendale, a native of Uniontown, Pa., who worked in Pittsburgh before opening a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. In 2009, the now-38-year-old father of two boys moved to Lewisburg in southern West Virginia — a state struggling with an obesity epidemic.
In the 2011-12 school year, nearly 28 percent of fifth-graders screened by West Virginia University were considered obese. So are nearly one-third of West Virginia adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"There are a lot of great cooking shows out there that are entertaining," Rosendale said. "But if I can do something that's also going to serve a purpose, I want to do that."
Nationwide, more than 23 million children and teenagers are considered overweight or obese, and Illinois-based Action for Healthy Kids says the numbers are "trending in a scary direction."
If childhood obesity isn't curbed, said spokesman Matthew Smith, 39 states can expect that more than 50 percent of their adult population will be obese by 2030. And studies show that children are more sedentary than ever, spending hours a day on TV, computers, tablets and phones.
"But TV can still pay a role and does play a role in education," Smith said. "Any way we can get a message out that talks about healthy eating, about balanced eating, about active lifestyles ... is a positive. "
Rosendale pointed out that many cooking shows focus on dishes beyond either the imagination or skill set of a typical TV viewer,
"So rather than come up with dishes that people probably aren't going to eat," he said, "why not recreate what people are already eating?"
They can still enjoy spaghetti, for example. But "Recipe Rehab" explores how store-bought sauces are loaded with salt and how easy it is to make a fresher, better-tasting alternative.
At the end of each episode, the chefs illustrate their techniques and offer tips.
Rosendale resigned as The Greenbrier's executive chef and director of food and beverage in June to pursue other, unspecified opportunities. Now he acknowledges it was to do the show, which he hopes will continue after this season.