by Marion Nestle
Dec 19 2007

4-star calories

If the previous post was about taking off fat, this one is about putting it on. Ray Sokolov, a former editor and food writer for the Wall Street Journal, had some fun with the USDA’s food composition data base (click on Search and take it from there). He estimated the calories in a main course from Mario Batali’s Babbo and Thomas Keller’s Per Se. I doubt the comparison is fair, but it sure is fun. Guess which one had the most!

  • Well, I’m not a follower of celebrity chefs, but all you have to do is read the recipe description to guess whose recipe has the most empty calories. Battali’s recipe contains nothing but meat and veggies, all ingredients that contain healthful protein, vitamins, minerals, and/or fiber. Keller’s has polenta, which provides little other than calories.

    Also, I remember looking in the French Laundry cookbook many years ago and thinking what a talent this man had for complicating things. So I disagree with the author’s statement that these recipes are the same level of difficulty. Battali’s recipe looks like something I could prepare, without assistance, for Sunday dinner. Keller’s dish looks like something you need a staff for.

    For what it’s worth, too, I don’t think that 550 calories is outrageous for a dinner entree, provided you have a salad as a side dish, hold the potatoes, limit yourself to a single glass of wine, and skip dessert. If I ate Battali’s pork with those accompaniments, I’d be utterly satisfied.