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J Am Diet Assoc. 1998 Feb;98(2):165-9.

Chefs' attitudes toward healthful food preparation are more positive than their food science knowledge and practices.

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Active Wellness, Inc., 25 W 68th St, No. 2D, New York, NY 10028, USA.



To determine if chefs' and student chefs' attitudes, knowledge, and practices regarding healthful food preparation are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


An analytical survey questionnaire was distributed to 4 chef groups. Sections 1 and 2 of the survey measured chefs' food science knowledge (13 questions) and likelihood of using food preparation practices (15 questions) necessary to meet the 1990 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Section 3 (22 questions) measured chefs' attitudes toward nutrition in general, toward the importance of healthful food preparation practices, and toward the US Dietary Guidelines.


Of 512 surveys distributed by mail, at culinary meetings, and in classes at 2 culinary schools, 447 (86%) were returned (158 from practicing chefs and 289 from student chefs). Practicing chefs included chef educators, foodservice chefs from a national corporation, and independent chef members of the American Culinary Federation of New York City.


Descriptive statistics included frequencies, means, and standard deviations of survey items and of individual survey sections. Reliability and validity were determined using alpha coefficients and principal components analysis. Analysis of variance was used to examine differences in practice, attitudes, and knowledge among chef groups.


Both practicing chefs and student chefs answered more than 70% of the food science questions correctly; independent chefs scored significantly lower than educator and corporate chefs. More than two thirds of the chefs and student chefs correctly responded to questions about the nutrient composition of food and how cooking affects the nutrient content of food. All chef groups were confused about fat and cholesterol in food and in the body. Few healthful food preparation practices were likely to be used by any chef group more than two thirds of the time, although the subscale of the attitude toward the importance of these practices was very positive. The majority of practicing chefs thought that customers do not care about the US Dietary Guidelines and nutrition; student chefs thought that customers do care. Both groups strongly agreed that, as chefs, they are responsible for the nutritional content of the food they prepared.


Both chefs and student chefs are willing to learn about food science and recipe modification principles as they apply to healthful cooking practices. The opportunities are clear: Dietitians have the expertise to teach chefs healthful food preparation techniques, recipe modification, and food composition information.

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