Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Heal with a meal

Veteran Winnipeg chef Walter Zogar suffered a heart attack in 2002 and it forever changed the way he looks at food

  • Print

EATING habits in the good old days were not necessarily good for you.

So says Winnipeg chef Walter Zogar, who remembers a particularly unhealthy tradition from the days when he worked in some of the most prestigious hotel kitchens in the country.

"We used to pull a great big roast out of the oven and put it down on the table with all that nice grease in there, and all the cooks would take big white buns and dip them in and eat it all up," he says. "No way do you do that anymore."

In the vicinity of 70 years young, tall and slim with sparkling eyes, chef­instructor Zogar is now a living testa­ment to his own love of healthy food and physical activity after receiving a rude wake-up call back in 2002.

It was a crisis that changed his life and led him to research and write The Heal­ing Cuisine Cookbook (Healing Cuisine Canada, online price $34).

"I started in Winnipeg way back in the early '60s working for CP Rail as an apprentice cook on the trains going from Winnipeg to Vancouver," he says.

After three years, he was transferred off the rails and made the rounds of historic CP hotels, such as the Royal Alexandra in Winnipeg, Toronto's Royal York and Victoria's Empress Hotel. That trip took 12 years.

Eventually, in the '70s, he settled in Calgary, where he started teaching gourmet cooking in night school classes.

After running a high-end restaurant for four successful years, he bounced to Victoria, where he taught at Camosun College, eventually parlaying his teaching skills into a local cooking show titled A la Carte in the early '80s. The show featured specialty recipes and dishes from world-famous restaurants.

He continued teaching and headed back to Winnipeg in the late '90s, where... he taught some more. Then, in 2002, he suf­fered the heart attack that changed everything.

"I was pretty big at that time, about 230 pounds," he says.

The "greasy gourmet' cooking had caught up with him. After surgery to correct a blocked artery, he found himself still struggling with allergies and prostate problems. The teacher had to become the student.

"I thought, this is getting out of hand," he says. "I was still quite young, so I started researching and went back to school and took applied nutrition. And I decided to look into this healthy eating."

It was then Zogar decided to take his training and his ex­perience and write about cooking and healing, not just for the heart, but the whole body. Five years later, he had a cookbook.

Now, the "semi-retired" (and that term is used very, very loosely to describe someone as busy as Zogar) chef-instructor is working part-time for the Oblate Sisters at St. Charles Re­treat, teaching out of Louis Riel School's Continuing Education Program as well as other outlets in the city and in a number of rural communities. As well, Zogar, along with his wife Pat, have developed a program called The Old Tyme Traveling Medicine Show to get the message out.

"We took the idea of the snake oil salesman and instead of selling an elixir we tell people 'It's in the book,'" says Zogar.

The show is designed to help groups raise funds by provid­ing a 90-minute fast and funny cooking and nutrition show that allows a fundraising group to keep the ticket money and Zogar to keep some of the proceeds from book sales.

"We're not going to get rich on this, but at least let's help some people by getting the information out there," he says.

"The human body can heal itself if it's given the right nutri­tion," he says.

But he also says you just have to keep it in the context of what is healthy and what are your individual needs. The key to making those good choices is to be well-informed.

To find out more about Walter Zogar, The Healing Cuisine Cookbook and The Old Tyme Traveling Medicine Show, go to www.healingcuisinecanada.com. If you want to find out where he is teaching next, find out how to purchase his cookbook or book him for your fundraiser, you can contact him at the website.

Zogar prepared so many fabulous dishes on the day we chat­ted, it was really tough to decide which ones to print. Here are three that stood out:

Zucchini rolls with herbed goat cheese and red pepper

Oh man, were these good. And they were beautiful to look at, with the thin strips of red pepper and green chives sticking out of the green-and-white rolled up zucchini.

2 small zucchini, washed, dried and ends trimmed

5 ml (1 tsp) sea salt

1 small bunch of fresh chives

115 g (4 oz) goat cheese, softened to room temperature

freshly ground black pepper to taste

5 ml (1 tsp) fresh thyme, chopped

pinch cayenne pepper

pinch sea salt

3 roasted red peppers cut into 0.6 cm (3¼-inch strips)

Using a mandoline, slice the zucchini lengthwise to get 16 long, thin strips each about 0.3 cm (1/8 inch thick).

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a couple of layers of paper towel. Set the zucchini on the paper towel and sprinkle both sides with salt: you'll use about 5 ml (1 tsp) for all the slices. Let sit for 15 minutes to soften and remove excess water.

Meanwhile, trim any coarse ends from the chives, cut 2-inch long pieces from the tip of end of the chives and reserve. Thinly slice the rest of the chives.

Mash the goat cheese with the sliced chives, thyme, 2 ml (½ tsp) black pepper, cayenne, a pinch of salt or to taste.

Pat the slices of zucchini dry on both sides with more paper towels. Set a slice of zucchini on a clean work surface and spread with about 5 ml (1 tsp) of the goat cheese (you may want to use your fingers for this ). At one end of the zucchini, lay one or two strips of the red pepper and a few of the 2-inch chive sticks, positioning them perpendicular to the roll so that their more attractive end will peek out when the zucchini slice gets rolled. Beginning with the chive end, roll the zucchini up and stand the roll upright on its edges on a platter. Refrigerate for up to two hours before serving.

Yield 16 pieces.

Broiled tilapia with red pepper sauce

Another treat from Chef Zogar's bountiful kitchen. He served this lovely fish with a simple roasted potato and the asparagus side which follows.

500 g (1 lb) tilapia fillets pinch sea salt pinch pepper

175 ml (¾ cup) red peppers, finely chopped

30 ml (2 tbsp) fat-free sour cream

15 ml (1 tbsp) fat-free mayonnaise

10 ml (2 tsp) lemon juice

30 ml (2 tbsp) green onions or chives, finely chopped

Put fish fillet on non-stick sprayed broiler pan, sprinkle fish with half each of the sea salt and pepper, broil until fish flakes easily when tested, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together red peppers, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice and remaining salt and pepper; serve over fish; sprinkle with green onions or chives. Serves 4.

Asparagus with hazelnuts

455 g (1 lb) asparagus, tough ends removed, then peeled if skin is thick

1 clove garlic, minced

15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley, plus sprigs for garnish

15 ml (1 tbsp) toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

1 ml (¼ tsp) lemon zest, finely grated plus extra for garnish

10 ml (2 tsp) fresh lemon juice

5 ml (1 tsp) extra-virgin olive oil pinch sea salt

In a large pot fitted with a steamer basket, bring about 1-inch water to a boil.

Add the asparagus, cover and steam until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove from the pot.

In a large bowl, combine the asparagus, garlic, chopped parsley, hazelnuts, 1 ml (¼ tsp) lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Toss well to mix and coat.

Arrange the asparagus neatly on a serving platter and garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon zest. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

* * *

For readers who were especially interested in our story on Paulette Millis and her book Eat Away Illness, you'll be glad to know she'll be back in Winnipeg from April 16-18. She will be conducting a book-signing and three workshops at Or­ganza's Dandelion Deli (2-230 Osborne, phone 453-6266 to register) including Eat Away Illness, Eat Yourself Thin, and Eat Away Diabetes. For more information, go to her website at www.healingwithnutrition.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 7:02 AM CDT: The correct website for The Healing Cuisine Cookbook is www.healingcuisinecanada.com. An incorrect website address was published in Wednesday's newspaper.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Preview of Small Things at PTE Mainstage

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • Goslings enjoy Fridays warm weather to soak up some sun and gobble some grass on Heckla Ave in Winnipeg Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 DAY goose challenge - May 18, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who will you vote for in Wednesday's mayoral race?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google