Chef Joey Giannuzzi Talks About DIG and Being Clean and Green, Part 2

Yesterday, we shared part 1 of our interview with chef Joey Gianuzzi of The Green Gourmet and DIG. If you missed it, you can read it here. We now continue with part 2.

Clean Plate Charlie: How do you cook food that's tasty while still being healthful?

Chef Joey Giannuzzi: You just use bigger, bolder flavors. Americans are so into salt. Instead of tons of salt, we just use bigger spices like cumin, coriander...whatever the day brings.

Is DIG vegetarian or are you serving meat?

We will serve meat. I found a grass fed Waygu beef that's Florida raised. We're doing Filet Mignon and short ribs.I'm making pork chops with an apple cider vinegar glaze. 

Are you finding any special challenges by going green when it comes to distributors or finding products?

There are some products that we order where we're the only restaurant in our area that purchase them. That means there are no local purveyors and we have to get a lot of products shipped in.  For example, we're going to have all organic sodas on the soda gun. No Coke or Pepsi. I finally found a company in Colorado that makes organic sodas in cola, mandarin, lime, strawberry rhubarb, ginger ale and root beer. Well, the syrup in the box is the same price as, say, Coke, but Coke will set you up with the system and the guns. These guys are small so they can't pay for the setup. Plus, the shipping is the same cost as the boxes of syrups.  But that's OK. I'll fight the fight.

What about local farmers and growers?

We work with a lot of those, too. We buy from Alberto at Universal Living Sprouts. Eevery morning I call him and he cuts the sprouts and delivers them to me. He does garbanzos, split peas, whatever's in season. This is a completely different mindset when it comes to eating.  If you took a pork chop and threw it in the grass it would return to nature. It would rot, decompose. But if you threw out the sprouts they would grow. A lot of people feel like they're putting life into their bodies instead of death and decay. We're providing good food for people.


What about you, chef? What do you eat?

I haven't eaten red meat in a long time. I'm just not a big fan of it. I'm a big fish eater. Its hard to eat clean, though. If I forget to bring something home from the restaurant, I just don't eat that night.

What do you have in your fridge at home?

What do I have? Nothing. Beer. Like every other chef.

So what's your guilty pleasure that you secretly eat but don't serve at your restaurants?

Pizza. Pepperoni pizza. Oh yeah.

I was recently in a restaurant where they believe in a farm-to-table concept and they gave me entire dossiers on my food. Do you find your restaurant guests want to know the entire origins of their plate?

When I opened the Green Gourmet I had all of that information, down to the catch date on the salmon and the kill date on the meat and I was ready to go and no one wanted to know that information. People do want to know what the ingredients are in a dish. People want to know what things are sweetened with. We have the information if anyone ever does want it, and the staff knows.

Our servers explain the dishes. I think when the server knows about the food it generates excitement. I usually pick out the highlights, like how you get the salmon pink, say.  We're going to have an information center here so you can learn about the different farms we use. It empowers the guest. This concept is so new - its more about education. It's not necessarily what farm the product came from -  it's more like what's not in it - the pesticides, the antibiotics, the Styrofoam.

What can we do to cut out waste in restaurants and also promote a healthier dining experience?

Smaller portions of clean food. We're programmed as Americans that bigger is better. We don't serve gigantic supersized portions - they're human sized portions. The American standard is that you put a lot of food on the plate. It's a war where perception of value takes place. I'd rather eat a smaller portion of good clean quality food. 

Stay tuned for a recipe from Chef Joey, coming soon. 

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.



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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss