Brutally Honest: Chef, why are you killing me?

Denny Patterson

Have you ever dined in Europe? It’s an experience that will never be forgotten. The exquisite flavors and textures are to be savored; a joyful party for the taste buds.
Then you have America…what’s turning rapidly into the land of the obese. Seriously, the United States is one of the top countries in the world battling obesity, especially in young kids and teenagers. Why do you think that is?

“When you look at Europe and other countries, they don’t have the hectic schedules as we do,” Executive Chef Brian Pehr said. “It comes down to convenience for us. It’s fast, quick and easy.”

There isn’t a single student or faculty member who doesn’t know Pehr, commonly called Chef. For the past 3 years, Pehr has been looked at as a friend and mentor. He has also been looked at as crazy uncle who will constantly have your back. Pehr has nothing but love for the students who he refers to as “his kids.”

College students have to deal with many issues throughout their years, but health and nutrition shouldn’t be one of them. The freshmen 15 and the sophomore 30 are like stalkers, watching your every move. They hide in the bushes, slowly waiting to attack.

Thanks to my poor choices, I recently found out I have bad cholesterol. Should I blame Millikin for letting us have easy access to fried and fatty foods? No, it’s my own stupidity for picking fatty foods and not exercising as much as I should. We may not have time for it, but we have to make time.

According to Pehr, the best way to lower cholesterol is to reduce fat, butter, cream and fried foods. Don’t take them completely out, but reduce the amount you intake. As for weight problems, Pehr doesn’t see it being a big issue.

“A large percent of the student body is always walking, moving and constantly going from here to there, he said. “I watch the amount of food you young people take in and laugh. How can you eat that much? No one here at Millikin is struggling terribly with weight.”

Our generation is much more informed about what’s healthy. It’s up to us to make the right food choices. If assistance is needed, Pehr encourages you to talk with him.
“I know food and I struggle with making good choices. I struggle with my weight and I’m a chef. Life, studies, practices – they all get in the way of making good choices. We have to educate ourselves. I love chicken nuggets, so I might pair it with a salad. I absolutely love cheeseburgers, but instead of having two, I might have one and substitute French fries with fruit or a cup of soup.”

Pehr watches what we eat in the cafeteria and he sees it from two different stand points – what we eat and how much of it we eat. A certain dish can have 2,350 portions produced, but many eat a lot of something else. Pehr takes notice of the history and he is aware that food in the Midwest is different than food from the coast; certain kinds of food are preferred.

“I meet the needs of my kids. I have a pretty good idea what’s going to be liked and what isn’t. A few years of experience tells me what we should try. I can’t run a kitchen from my office. Kids are coming up to me asking this and that, but I love it. Come talk to me; we can guide them and help them make good decisions about food. “

On the other hand, weight gain and bad nutrition isn’t always caused by food. Genetics have proven to play a big part.

“I don’t have bad blood sugar, bad cholesterol, bad blood pressure but I have a weight problem. It’s something I think about every day of my life.”

I don’t want to end this piece by saying something cliché like make good choices, but you all pretty much get the picture. Let’s just say if you’re not taking care of yourself, you can expect Pehr to be hunting you down. He has butcher’s knives and he knows how to use them. Make the man proud; he’s proud of you.