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Saturated Smaturated, Dark Meat>White Meat

I have dreams about this chicken from adHoc

I have dreams about this chicken from adHoc

I'm speaking here not just from a culinary stand point but also a fitness professional. Now before you pick up that d-a-f (dry as fuck) see every protein strand because its overcooked chicken breast and come at me, hear me out! 

The average piece of chicken breast contains:
231 Calories
43g Protein
5g Fat
0g Carb
1.5g Saturated Fat

And dark meat:
287 Calories
38g Protein
14g Fat
0g Carb
3.7g Saturated Fat

If you look at it based on those numbers, you'll notice that you can squeak out a bit more protein out of chicken breast while keeping your saturated fat intake down. The increase in calories from dark meat comes from fat. (Note: If you have a physique based goal and are watching calorie intake, I would go white meat.)

As a cook, I much prefer cooking dark meat for two reasons: I think it tastes better and it's pretty difficult to overcook thighs and drumsticks. But the SATURATED FAT!!!!!!

And saturated fat is BAD right?! 

Here's a few points on Saturated Fats and why you should include them in your diet.

  1. Saturated fat seems to support the enhancement of good cholesterol.
  2. Fats from palm oil and coconut oil are highly saturated, but not necessarily bad. Palm and coconut also contain medium chain fats, which can support health and optimal body composition.
  3. Eating saturated fats showed direct improvement in mood and cognition. It's why comfort foods are often very fatty.

The biggest problem with saturated fats seems to be the sources (processed food and oils) combined with refined carbohydrates which as a result causes your health to suffer. If you do choose to consume tropical oils like palm and coconut oil, I would attempt to eat them in their native form. The refinement process often creates hydrogenated fats in an attempt to make the products more shelf stable. 

Saturated fat should make up no more than 10% of total calories.

I can't stress that that sentence above one more time. NO MORE THAN 10%

For someone eating 2000 calories per day, that would be a maximal intake of 200 grams of saturated fat per day.

As a fit pro and common sense weilding human, I know that a bucket of fried chicken or pizza on a weekly basis isn't healthy, but I'm also a lover of good food. And sometimes it comes in the form of a pizza or chicken. I don't deprive myself of these types of foods because of some fad diet. 

Always, everything in moderation.

Master Chef 202: Roasting

This Christmas dinner is not possible without the use of an oven and proper roasting technique

This Christmas dinner is not possible without the use of an oven and proper roasting technique

Roasting is one of the most versatile cooking techniques. You can prepare oven roasted vegetables or an elaborate roasted turkey for Thanksgiving. Here's a breakdown of the basics behind each of them. 

Roasting Vegetables

Roasting vegetables all follow a simple procedure.

  1. Preheat oven anywhere from between 400-500 degrees
  2. Toss with oil
  3. Season salt and pepper
  4. Enjoy!

Nicely roasted vegetables need higher temperatures to get the caramelization desired. Here's a batch of roasted Broccoli I made the other day. 

Roasting a Whole Chicken

By age 30, I would say every adult should be able to roast a whole chicken. I was planning on creating a video but I always share this video with anyone who asks "what are the basics to cooking a whole chicken?" Who better than Thomas Keller to explain how to do just that!

Basic components of roasted poultry

  1. Truss chicken (optional)
  2. After room temp, season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Place on bed of vegetables or on a wire rack baking sheet. 
  4. Roast in your oven for 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the bird. 

I will confess that when I'm pressed for time and want to "just eat", I love to butterfly the whole chicken. As the video will elaborate, it allows the chicken to cook at a more even rate and most importantly, much faster. 

Master Chef 201: Braising

Braising is one of my favorite cooking techniques. It allows you to take a tougher less expensive cuts of meat and create some of the tastiest dishes you'll eat. Braising often takes a few hours to break down the connective tissues (collagen) from the muscle fibers via dry and moist heat cooking methods. All braises follow this typical order. 

  1. Sear the meat and vegetables over high heat. 
  2. Add liquid and often an acid to further tenderize the meat. 
  3. Turn heat down to low and cook until meat is fork tender. 
  4. Reduce liquid into sauce or gravy.

Here's one of my all time favorite dishes Beef Bourguignon. This recipe is a quick version adapted from Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook. 

1/2 bottle red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon

1 onions, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp flour

1/2c chicken or beef stock

3 thyme sprigs

6 Italian parsley sprigs

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs or chuck (about 1 inch thick)

2 carrots, obliquely cut 1/2 inch cooked* 

1 box button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced, cooked*

10-14 white pearl onions, cooked* 


  • For the beef: Trim excess fat and any silver skin from the short ribs. Cut the meat into pieces approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches by 1 inch thick.
  • Heat a heavy bottomed pot, when the oil is hot, add only as many pieces of meat as will fit comfortably in a single layer; do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam rather than brown. Once the meat has browned on the first side, turn it and continue to brown the meat on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Brown the remaining meat in batches, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.
  • Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot, stirring and cooking until the vegetables are translucent.
  • Sprinkle 2 tbsp of flour over the vegetables and mix together.
  • Add back in the beef, and both the stock and wine. Pour enough wine to barely cover all the meat.
  •  Bring the pot up to a simmer and turn the heat down. Braise the beef for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Periodically skimming off any scum that rises to the top. 
  • Transfer the meat to an ovenproof pot or container. 
  • Strain the braising liquid twice through a fine strainer or a medium strainer lined with a clean and dampened tea towel or cheesecloth, straining it the second time into a saucepan. Discard the vegetables.

While the Beef cooks...

  • Peel and cut the carrots into about 1/2 inch pieces. Add a pad a butter of butter to a pan and sauce until nicely cartelized. 
  • Trim the mushroom stems flush with the caps. Heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat until it has melted and the foam has subsided. Add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to medium-low, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook gently, tossing often, until the mushrooms are lightly browned and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
  • Final garnish is to add another pad of butter to a pan, and cook the pearl onions. This I would leave alone for a few minutes before shaking the pan so that the onions can get some nice color to them. 

Finally add the carrots, onions, mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.


5 Lessons Thomas Keller Can Teach You to Improve Your Fitness

It’s been ten years since I graduated culinary school. In the years that followed my style of cooking has changed a lot. One thing that hasn't is my respect and admiration for Chef Thomas Keller. He is the proprietor for the acclaimed Michelin Star French Laundry and Per Se, along with a casual French bistro Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and adHoc restaurants.

So you can imagine the excitement I had during a routine trip to northern California to Yountville to enjoy adHoc fried chicken for lunch and saw Chef Keller walking down the street.

adhoc fried chicken and bbq (ribs and pulled pork) Totally worth the drive to yountville

A photo posted by Gary Heshiki Fitness (@garyheshikifitness) on

We left our home in Los Angeles early one morning and drove straight to Yountville arriving about 90 minutes ahead of our scheduled lunch. Sara and I figured were could get some coffee and a pastry at Bouchon Bakery and walk around. After parking our car, I spotted a man in chef whites walking down the street and I knew it was him.

I asked if I could get a photo while stumbling like a dope to get my iPhone out of my pocket. Sara quickly got her phone out and snapped this photo.  Obviously this was the highlight of the trip for me!

If you still haven’t caught on I hold Chef Thomas Keller in very high regard.

Even now as a fitness professional there are lessons I’ve learned from my time in the kitchen and from Chef Thomas Keller that are very applicable to a fitness professional and enthusiast alike.

1. Starting at the Bottom

Chef Keller started out as a dishwasher in his mother’s restaurant. There he was able to learn many skills that would serve him in the future such as:

  • Organization: Knowing where and how to stack the dishes in the right way so the team could be efficient putting things where they needed to be.
    • If you're unorganized, you’ll walk into the gym and perform a random 45 minutes while accomplishing very little. Plan ahead and be more productive. 
  • Feedback: In 45 seconds you know whether or not the dishes are clean or dirty. If they come out dirty, use that immediate feedback to correct the problem.
    • Pay attention to how things feel and look, you should know immediately whether a particular rep was good or not. Take steps to improve on the following set.
  • Repetition: You begin to learn the discipline and habits required to be good at the task you’ve been assigned. 
    • Being good at anything requires you to put in time to practice and get better at it. In one year you’ll be good at deadlifts, imagine how great you’ll be in ten years!

2. Cooks cook to nurture people

"You must take pleasure in serving others. Build a deep desire towards learning your craft. Skills are learned not innate."

Any fitness professional worth their weight in protein powder will make an extra effort to teach the why and how behind the what. They're doing you a disservice if all they do is hand you a sheet with food on it and expect you to follow that blindly. A true pro lives to pass on their knowledge with the endgame being a client who's better than they are. 

3. Attention to detail

"Having an attention to detail is the cornerstone of success. It’s there where you understand what you’re trying to accomplish and how to exceed expectations."

While every armchair quarterback believes they're only a few notches below JJ Watt. I hate to be the barer of bad news: You aren't anywhere near the level of a J.J Watt.

Photo: Men's Health

Photo: Men's Health

So training like him is only going to lead to an injury. Blindly following the "workout" printed isn't going to work for two reasons:

  1. It's not his actual workout. Do you really think he performs a few supersets and calls it a day?!
  2. It hasn't been tailored for your body and goals in mind. 

I can recall past colleagues who would lazily take a workout from a magazine and make their clients perform it. They decided it was an inconvenience to make adjustments for the person, glossing over tiny details that would inevitably lead to that client getting hurt.  

Don't be a shotgun, be a sniper. 

4. Believe in yourself because no one else will until you do.

When Chef Keller started, he mentions that his biggest asset was his ignorance of not knowing what it actually would take to start a restaurant. He focused on the small successes and continued moving forward in the face of having no resources, no money, and no job after leaving a failed restaurant in New York. He could've made that restaurant more casual, but it wasn't his vision. 

You need to believe in your vision so strongly that you're willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. 

He would wake up to make calls to banks or fill out forms for loans. He recalls speaking to over 400 people asking them for money. He would tell person after person what he was looking to do, and as uncomfortable as it was, it only strengthened the belief in his vision. 

Do you have what it really takes to accomplish the goal you’ve set for yourself? Ask before starting any program whether or not the goal you’re setting will be in line with the choices you’re willing to make. The sacrifices that might be asked of you may be too much.

Related: Cost of Getting Lean

5. Funnel your work into one singular goal

Keller states that his initial goals were always about how to make the French laundry a better restaurant. He opened bouchon south of the restaurant so the staff had a place to eat after work because at the time most establishments were closed long after service. 

If you're familiar with the bay area you know that it's filled with great bread bakers. Yet he could not find the exact style and size for the French Laundry. Thus he opened Bouchon Bakery to supply the restaurants there with the bread he wanted. 

Make sure your goals are consistent with the bigger picture. You may want to have an elite powerlifting total, run a sub 30 minute 10k, and have 8% bodyfat; but unless you’re getting paid to only exercise and recover those goals might be a little hard to accomplish.

Decide what it is you want and go after it channeling all your energies towards that one goal. Keep in mind that even after only 2 years, you can change your mind. 2 years is a drop in the bucket compared to 20.

Allow yourself that flexibility but don’t program hop only after a few months. Give yourself adequate time to asses whether or not what you’re doing is working or not. When making any decision think critically as to whether or not it is helping you achieve the larger goal you've set yourself. Big goals are accomplished by completing a bunch of little ones.