Functional chef stocks his kitchen with chia oil
Chef Gerard Viverito is passionate about using nutritious ingredients. That’s what drew him to become a functional chef. “Functional cooking is adding healthful ingredients to a dish for increased nutrition,” he explains. He is also a strong proponent of being a good environmental steward. As a sustainable oil with several health benefits, chia oil has earned a coveted place in his kitchen.
But he’s selective, preferring to use cold-pressed SunChia. “I don’t like oils that have been chemically extracted.” He also appreciates SunChia’s longer-than-average shelf life. “Rancid oils don’t benefit your body,” he states.
While chia oil can be used for some low-heat cooking Viverito says, “I love it for cold applications.” He also enjoys sharing new ways to use this slightly nutty-tasting oil. “Chia is great as a finishing oil because it adds some roundness to the flavor. I also like topping grilled veggies with chia oil after they’ve finished cooking.” Most people also don’t realize that they can use chia oil instead of olive oil to top a Caprese salad.
One of Viverito’s favorite go-to salad dressings is a vinaigrette made by whisking a little Dijon mustard with Sambucol black elderberry syrup (a whole fruit extract that supports the immune system). Add a touch of ground pepper and a little salt. Then slowly blend in a little extra virgin olive oil and chia oil, using a 3 parts oil to 1 part acid ratio. “This is very good paired with segmented oranges, grapefruit and marcona almonds,” he says.
As a functional chef, Viverito often has conversations with people about their food and nutritional preferences. “Chia oil is the highest source of plant-based omega-3s, which are very important for cellular function and brain development. A lot of people don’t like the fishy aftertaste of other omegas.” Chia oil solves that dilemma. In addition to chia oil for culinary uses, chia oil is also available in convenient softgels.