The Healthy Eats Q & A: Chef Marc Murphy

Photo by: JASON SHALTZ ©THE SHALTZES/photographers, LLC

JASON SHALTZ, THE SHALTZES/photographers, LLC

Chef Marc Murphy has devoted his career to creating innovative cuisine. He currently presides over five New York restaurants -- two locations of Landmarc, a bistro with Italian influences, two locations of his New York-style fish shack, Ditch Plains, and his latest venture, Kingside, which features a New American menu. He's also a regular judge on Chopped. Here, he opens up about some of his own eating habits -- which include loving kale and french fries both.

What health-food trend would you like to see go away?

Week-long juice cleanses. I love a great juice, but I don't think you should use it as a meal replacement every day. Everything in moderation.

What healthy items do you always have on hand in the kitchen, and how do you use them?

I always like to have some healthy grains like quinoa and farro around. At my newest restaurant Kingside, we just added a brick-roasted poussin with winter squash, farro and mustard greens, and it's delicious!

What's your favorite vegetable, and how do you like to prepare it?

I love broccoli rabe and usually prepare it by sauteing with garlic and black olives or feta and chili flakes.

What kitchen tool is key to easy, healthy cooking?

The Japanese mandoline. It can slice anything, which makes vegetables easy to prepare.

What's a dish that people think is bad for them but that can actually be made healthy?

Creamy soups, like cream of broccoli. Instead of using cream or butter, you can actually thicken the sauce by using pureed vegetables and chicken stock, which is much healthier.

Kale: Love it or hate it?

I love it because it's an extremely versatile vegetable. You can use it in salads, soups or as a side, and it goes great with a variety of flavor combinations.

What one vice can you not live without?
French fries!

Photo by Jason Shaltz

Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.

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Marc Murphy Bio

Ask Chef Marc Murphy where he grew up and he'll fire off a list of cosmopolitan destinations — Milan, Paris, Villefranche, Washington, D.C., Rome and Genoa — "and that's before I turned 12," he’ll explain. This dizzying list of hometowns served as an excellent education in French and Italian cuisine, though as a teenager this was not his first passion. When the reality hit that he didn't have the funds to become a professional racecar driver, Marc followed his brother to the Institute of Culinary Education. After graduation he apprenticed at restaurants in France and Italy before returning to New York, where he landed a job as a line cook at Terrance Brennan's Prix Fixe. He stayed there for almost two years, working his way through every station in the kitchen and forging a professional bond with Brennan’s Sous Chefs Joseph Fortunato and David Pasternak. Eager to return to Europe, Marc flew to Paris and landed a position at the one-star Le Miraville, where he stayed for one-and-a-half years. Afterward, he staged at the famed Louis XV in Monte Carlo, where Executive Chef Alain Ducasse was so impressed with Marc's skills that he personally made arrangements for him to work with Sylvain Portay at Le Cirque once he returned to the States. Marc still considers Portay to be his greatest teacher. "Sylvain was above all concerned with coaxing out the most-vibrant, interesting flavors any ingredient had to offer, yet he insisted on minimal manipulation," he recalls. Following Le Cirque, Fortunato tapped him to work as a sous chef at Layla, Drew Nieporent's Middle Eastern fantasy in Tribeca, where he met consultant Georges Masraff. When Masraff joined forces to open Cellar in the Sky at Windows on the World, he recruited Marc to serve as executive chef. After receiving critical acclaim, including a two-star review from The New York Times, Marc headed uptown to serve as executive chef of La Fourchette, where NYT critic Ruth Reichl awarded him another glowing two-star review, citing his "open desire to transform food [so that] in his hands, even a simple green salad ... looks like a ruffled hat in a painting by Renoir." In March 2004 Marc opened his first solo enterprise with Landmarc [Tribeca], which won rave reviews both for its eclectic French and Italian menu as well as its highly untraditional wine list. Following its success, Marc opened Ditch Plains in the West Village in 2006 serving casual, beach-style cuisine such as lobster rolls, fish tacos and the infamous ditch dog, as well as other comfort food favorites. In 2007 Marc was given the opportunity to open another Landmarc restaurant in the pres­tigious Time Warner Center, where he brought his bistro-style cuisine midtown. In October 2013 Marc opened Kingside at the Viceroy New York hotel on New York's iconic West 57th Street, serving his interpretation of New American cuisine. Marc's restaurants now fall under the Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy name, where he acts as executive chef and owner. In addition to the restaurants, Marc also heads up the company's catering division, Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy, where his signature style of accessible contemporary cuisine transcends the boundaries of what is offered in his restaurant locations. Today Marc's involvement in the industry moves beyond the restaurants as well, with a regular role as a judge on Food Network's top-rated hit Chopped as well as appearances on other hit series such as Guy's Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay and Worst Cooks in America. Marc also appears on The Rachael Ray Show and The Today Show, among others. He is the president of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp, as well as a member of the Food + Finance High School's Industry Advisory Board, a member of the Leadership Council for Share our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign and the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength's Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. In 2012 Marc joined the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, where he takes part in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States. Marc's debut cookbook, Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking, was released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2015.

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