Tasting Global Delicacies At New ‘Eat Elmhurst’ Fest
Guests Sample Fare From Local Eateries
As part of a collaborative effort to stimulate local economic growth, community leaders and local restaurants combined to showcase a variety of diverse food offerings to the public at a food tasting and education event to ring in Elmhurst’s first-ever restaurant week on Saturday, Apr. 2.
City Council Member Daniel Dromm was on hand at Elmhurst Hospital to welcome visitors to the opening of his “Eat Elmhurst” initiative aimed at highlighting many of the multicultural neighborhood’s eclectic food establishments.
Eat Elmhurst runs through Saturday, Apr. 9 and aims to demonstrate that Elmhurst has a wide variety of eateries featuring cuisine from around the world. The Saturday exhibition included 14 local businesses specializing in continental, Italian and South American cuisines, as well as those serving Japanese, Malayasian, Chinese, Thai and Indonesian fare.
Each of the 14 restaurants are offering either 10 percent discounts or free menu items during the weeklong campaign.
“In times like these, celebrating cultural diversity and encouraging everyone to partake in our various traditions, cultures and cuisines can play a pivotal role in spurring economic growth,” said Dromm. “Elmhurst’s immigrant community has long been one of New York’s best-kept secrets…and now people who people who live or work here are ready to share their favorite recipes and traditions with the rest of the city.”
Dromm’s coordinator, Celeste Balducci, informed that the endeavor also has an educational component to it of providing his constituents with basic guidelines to making sensible food choices when dining out.
Those in attendance were advised to read food descriptions carefully in finding out how meals are prepared, as well as being reminded to watch their portion sizes and taking their leftovers home with them if they’ve been presented with an overabun- dance of food. In addition, they were encouraged to skip bread and butter appetizers prior to feasting on their main entrees, along with being careful of salad bars, which often include fattening foods draped in mayonnaise and harmful dressings.
Joining Dromm’s contingent were Elmhurst Hospital dieticians, the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the Cornell University Cooperative Extension (CUCE) and GrowNYC, which offered tips on maintaining a healthier diet.
Elmhurst’s Hospital’s Director of Nutrition Services Jay Huang was one of the guest speakers at the event who underscored the importance of individuals knowing their medical histories when deciding what to indulge in.
The hospital’s six-year veteran told the Times Newsweekly that his group is focusing on how to educate certain members of society who are afflicted by common diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular issues. The medical consultant further acknowledged a rise in hospital patients checking in with kidney disorders.
Huang urged Elmhurst’s diabetic population to not only limit their portions, but also increase their dietary fiber intake. Conversely, those with cardiovascular problems are instructed to lower the amount of fat and sodium in their diets.
“They should all go for their annual check-up; that’s very important. Some doctors might need to see them more frequently because each individual is totally different,” he observed. “The basic guideline is to know who you are and to balance things out. If you crave fried chicken, what you can do is remove the skin. But in the next meal, you must eat something light to balance things out.”
As a general rule for eating out, Huang suggested that people choose roasted, baked, broiled, steamed or poached varieties versions of food. He also warned restaurant patrons to avoid finishing all the gravy and sauces at the bottom of their plates.
The food and health expert did deliver some positive news on fast-food establishments by claiming that more of them are serving up healthier meals, such as grilled chicken sandwiches. However, he did note that a number of other meat options are often drenched in corn flour and starch to make them appear crispy and tender, but lead people to absorb more fat than they should.
Huang addressed adult and childhood obesity as well by adding: “[It’s] a global issue. People become more modern and they don’t eat enough fiber. They have less activity, which leads to obesity. A lots of kids stay in front of their computers. Obesity creates a lot of serious diseases in the long run. Eating right and exercising work hand-in-hand.”
CUCE Community Educator Leah Thai-Wu worked at one of the tables at the food tasting extravaganza, where she showed onlookers how to prepare healthy home-cooked meals. “The message we send is to incorporate colors into the diet…mixed colors, as many as possible,” she said.
Dromm viewed restaurant week as more than a short-term fix to help local merchants, but he also saw his endeavor turning into a sustained promotion of the very best his neighborhood has to offer with the goal of achieving long-term success.
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