Chef Jordan Burris Talks Healthy Recipe Swaps & More for National Culinary Arts Month
FLIK Hospitality Group has hundreds of chefs, but one has a very unique role in the company. Jordan Burris is FLIK Hospitality Group’s Webtrition Testing Chef. Jordan describes her role as one who prepares recipes from start to finish while tasting and taking copious notes every step of the way. Once her recipes are finalized they are entered into Webtrition, FLIK’s proprietary recipe software for nutrition analysis. We spoke to Jordan by phone to learn more about her day-to-day role with FLIK and her path to becoming a chef.
FLIK: Tell us about your career path to becoming a chef.
Jordan: I was borderline obsessed with food as a child. I remember waking up when I was young and the first thing I would think about was what I was going to eat that day. My mom was a chef-instructor at Johnson and Wales, so growing up I knew I would go there for school. I spent a lot time around restaurants when I was younger and I’ve always had a passion for food. I completed the culinary nutrition program at the Providence campus of Johnson and Wales and during school, I worked with FLIK to test recipes. I knew I wanted that to be my full time job. I managed private events in Boston after graduation and then, a few years later, FLIK called.
FLIK: How important is nutrition when you think about preparing foods and creating recipes?
Jordan: Nutrition is important to me professionally because most of the recipes I write are supposed to be somewhat healthy. I’m constantly thinking about how to make something healthier and how to use better ingredients. I think it’s really important to deliver healthier food to our customers and accurately represent the nutrition information for the recipes. Personally, nutrition is important to me at home right now because I have a toddler, so now I think about it more. Not to say that I don’t splurge on food items -- the chef side of me wins sometimes for sure.
FLIK: You mentioned the chef side of you wins. Do you think it is possible to have your chef indulgence be satisfied while still creating healthy foods?
Jordan: Yes, I think it is definitely possible and we try to adhere to that most of the time. We want healthy food to taste good, but at the same time, if I want fried chicken then I’m going to splurge on really good fried chicken.
FLIK: As a chef, do you have lines you draw regarding the tradition of a food when you’re modifying recipes for healthfulness?
Jordan: That is a tough balance to keep, but it is a line that we try to have when we are creating recipes. We don’t want to try to make something healthy when it inherently isn’t. We don’t necessarily want to make something like fried chicken seem healthy. For instance, this often comes up with cultural recipes. Some cuisines are inherently high in sodium, so we don’t want to take an authentic recipe and try to make it healthy if it compromises its authenticity.
FLIK: Innovation is an important part of the food business. Where do you get your inspiration?
Jordan: Social media is a huge asset for staying current. Any talented chef I know of, I follow on Instagram. My husband is also a chef, which is great, we bounce ideas off each other and we also try to go out to dinner a lot and try new things, but it is hard to stay innovative all of the time.
FLIK: Are there any current trends that you’re particularly excited about?
Jordan: It is really exciting that the plant-forward movement is trending, so I’ve been working on a lot of plant-forward recipes. I am excited about that because it is sustainable and it tends to be healthier.
FLIK: Talk about the process for creating healthy recipes that also taste delicious. Is this something that you were taught in school or did you develop these skills over time?
Jordan: I definitely learned the initial tools in school and a lot of what I learned in school, I still use today. There are more techniques that have become popular since I have been cooking professionally, so I try to stay current with those trends as well. When it comes to creating new recipes, I start with the recipe idea and put it on paper. I will then make tweaks for healthfulness. As I am cooking the recipe, I adjust it based on taste and appearance. The most important thing for recipes is the balance of flavor. I am constantly tasting along the way. That is the key to making any good dish – it must be balanced in flavor.
FLIK: Do you have any tips for home cooks when it comes to substituting high fat or high salt ingredients for more healthful options?
Jordan: I like to use a lot of herbs, spices, and citrus in place of using processed sauces. Another trick I like is to use pureed beans in place of a roux to thicken soups. The best tip I have is to use ingredients that are in season so that you don’t have to use a lot of added seasoning and fat etc.
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