How A Top Chef Got Healthy

June 24, 2011   5 Comments

Snack Girl met another top chef at a recent conference. Jet Tila is the creator of the restaurant Wazuzu at Steve Wynn's Encore resort in Las Vegas.

Jet Tila's Chinese Chicken Salad

He is also going to be on Iron Chef America in August where I am sure he will do great.

The photo above is of all the dishes that the real chefs (and Snack Girl) made under his tutelage. These are Asian inspired healthy dishes with whole grains, vegetables, and very little meat (if any).

Here is a photo of me and Jet at the class. (he is the shorter one who knows what he is doing :)


Jet Tila is known for using Asian flavors and I got to try a whole bunch of sauces and fresh spices that I had never tried before. But, what fascinated me the most was that Jet had undergone a healthy transformation.

He shared with us that he had lost 25 pounds and he had gone vegan from 9 AM to 5 PM. To me, this is truly inspiring because he works with FOOD all day!

I asked him a few questions:

Snack Girl: Why did you decide to go vegan from 9-5 PM?

Jet Tila: Just as a lifestyle change. I knew I was eating too much animal protein and wanted to cut down.

Snack Girl: Was it difficult for you being surrounded by food and giving up meat and dairy?

Jet Tila: Always, also because I've been eating animal protein almost every meal forever. It takes conditioning, but overall it wasn't to bad.

Snack Girl: How long did it take for you to lose the 25 pounds?

Jet Tila: It took about 6 months. Eating meat 1 meal a day, cutting down calories, and training 2 to 3 days a week.

Snack Girl: What advice would you give to others wishing to do similar diet transformations?

Jet Tila: Just take it at your own pace. Bottom line is math. Eating less calories than you burn is the key. Cut out a few things at a time but you MUST add some physical activity.

Snack Girl: What is your favorite snack?

Jet Tila: Fav would be seasonal fruit. Whatever is season, I make a big container of cut fruit and munch on it.

Thanks, Jet! Below is a Chinese Chicken Salad that is one of his most popular recipes.

The serving size here is for a crowd, but what I like is that you could mix the vegetables, put them in the fridge, and just toss with the dressing when you are reading to eat.

This is a great party dish and quite flavorful. Don't worry if you can't find all the ingredients - just improvise!

Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe

reprinted with permission from Jet Tila

(10 servings)
5 Green onions (2" white parts only) thin sliced
1 Tbsp Chinese dry mustard- made into a paste
1/3 Cup Japanese Pickled ginger, packed
1/2 Cup Lime juice
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Shallots, minced
1/2 Cup Honey
2/3 Cup Soy sauce, Japanese
1/3 Cup Rice vinegar
2 Tbsp Ginger, Minced
2 Cups peanut oil- added slowly

Combine all ingredients except peanut oil in a blender. Blend thoroughly. Slowly Blend in peanut oil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.

1 Cup Canned Tangerine, strained
5 Cups Napa Cabbage
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 Head Radicchio, cut into thin strips
4 Cups Mixed Baby Greens
2 Lbs. Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and diced
5 each Wonton Skins
2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds

In a large salad bowl, toss tangerine, cabbage, carrots, radicchio, greens and chicken.

Heat 1/2 inch oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Cut wonton skins into 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips wide. Fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds on each side. Drain on paper towel and let cool. You’ll need about 2 cups wonton strips. Toss with salad.

Toss Salad with 1 cup of dressing. Add more if needed, a little at a time.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

For one serving = 381 calories, 24 g fat, 13.7 g carbohydrates, 28.1 g protein, 1.3 g fiber, 591 mg sodium, 10 Points+

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I love watching Iron Chef! I've always wondered how they're able to do all that stuff in an hour.

Wanna really be impressed with a Top Chef who lost A LOT of weight -- Art Smith lost over 60 lbs and runs marathons.

Spoiler alert: Sherry Yard (Wolfgang Puck's executive Pastry Chef) wrote in her cookbook that the Iron Chef contestants know what their secret ingredients will be before hand!

Either way, thanks for a great recipe! :)

Love it!! Personally, if I work with food all day, I most likely won't be eating it (at first I will do though) because I'm just sick (and sometimes nauseous) of the food. Good luck to him going on Iron Chef!!

@Tea-bag: On Food Network, they did some show that revealed 'secrets' about Iron Chef America and they said that they the contestants will be showed the secret ingredient and have time to come up with dishes.

I bought Jet's cook book. I want to make the Chinese Chicken Salad but do not know what the CHINESE DRY MUSTARD is I went to an asian market and still don't know what this is. I tryed every which way to google it still no answer please help. Since it is a Tablespoon it may make a difference in the dressing.

Thank you,

Linda Clelland

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