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Friday, May 15, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Natalia Rusin, R.D. Culinary Nutritionist

At Rouge Tomate, Natalia Rusin shares her extensive knowledge in nutrition and culinary arts. She works closely with executive chef Jeremy Bearman to create, develop, and serve seasonal, well-balanced cuisine. Natalia received her AS Culinary Arts degree from Johnson & Wales University in 1999 and earned a BS in Culinary Nutrition in 2001 as a member of the first graduating class in this new program, which is accredited by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Throughout her education, she held various positions in the areas of culinary arts and nutrition at Savory Solutions, Smart Mouth Technologies and Hasbro Children’s Hospital. She was then selected to attended New York Presbyterian Hospital's dietetic internship program where she experienced a wide range of clinical nutrition in a hospital setting, assessed the nutrition status of patients and performed nutrient analyses. During this time she also worked as a personal chef, cooking for clients with specific nutritional needs.

Natalia spent several years splitting her time between hospitals and kitchens, working as a clinical dietician at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and continuing as a personal chef in the evenings. In 2006, Natalia realized that she could utilize both skill sets and joined CulinArt Incorporated, a boutique dining service company as their nutrition specialist in the culinary development department. At this position, she was able to create and implement healthy food programs in a wide range of food service operations and train chefs on nutrition and healthy cooking.

Natalia's experience as a chef and dietician enables her to train and work with the kitchen staff at Rouge Tomate to prepare seasonal menus compliant with the principles of S.P.E.®, a nutritional charter developed by chefs and dieticians that offer a balanced approach to sourcing, preparing and enhancing food.

Peachy Deegan interviewed Natalia Rusin for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What are your favorite foods?
Natalia Rusin: Lobster, black cherries, aged gouda, nectarines, avocados, chickpeas, fried chicken, peanut butter, strawberry shortcake….

What inspires you to create new dishes?
Bright colorful produce, especially when it is from a local farm. When I have to wait 9 months for black cherries, when they are finally in season I get so inspired!

What is the key to success in creating a dish that will be more fabulous than all of the other dishes in Manhattan?
A good palate, an open mind and experience.

What are the most common nutritional mistakes people make?
They fall into the trap of deceptive food marketing such as “energy bars” or water that is supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants…. I try to eat as naturally as possible.

How is Rouge Tomate healthier than many Manhattan restaurants?
Our first focus is fruits and vegetables. We make almost everything from scratch. We limit saturated fat and promote foods containing healthy fats (omega 3 fatty acids), we use cooking methods that preserve or enhance the nutrients in each dish, and then balance the ingredients on each plate and combine ingredients that have synergy for added benefit.

What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
Out to dinner in one of the many fabulous restaurants with my fiancé.

What is your favorite shop?
Fresh, Anthropology

What is your favorite drink?
Harpoon Pale Ale, Genmai Cha, Gruners, The Green Tornado at Rouge Tomate

What is your favorite restaurant?
Eleven Madison Park (Gormand Tasting is my best dining experience ever)

What is your favorite NYC book?
The Age of Innocence or Dry

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC that you can do nowhere else?
Run the Brooklyn Bridge.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
New Yorkers friendliness, we’re just busy and don’t have time for small talk every time we interact with someone. Overrated- The Food Emporium

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I have been a personal chef for 6+ years. Even though I am a registered dietitian I still use bacon, cheese, and butter just in moderation. Eating is 80% what you need and 20% enjoyment.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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