Laura Pensiero

Laura Pensiero is a French Culinary Institute graduate, a registered dietitian, health educator, restaurateur, cookbook author, spokesperson, and industry expert. Additionally, she founded and operates Chef4life, a nutrition and culinary consulting service that actively promotes healthy eating via freelance writing, cooking demonstrations, presentations, educational materials, web content, and product marketing events. Laura's strategy to help people make long lasting changes to their diet? Make it delicious, flexible, practical and fun. She represents the next wave in food culture in the United States. With her strong background as a chef, restaurateur, and nutritionist, coupled with her passionate belief that fresh food is healthy food, Pensiero brings an authentic voice to the discussion of eating locally for better health.

Laura Pensiero represents the next wave in food culture in the United States. With her strong background as a chef, restaurateur, and nutritionist, coupled with her passionate belief that fresh food is healthy food, Pensiero brings an authentic voice to the discussion of eating locally for better health.    Over the past twenty years, she has become an expert on the local foods landscape of the Hudson Valley, her home and the home of her influential Rhinebeck Italian-Mediterranean restaurant, Gigi Trattoria.  Beginning in 2001, Gigi Trattoria was one of the first restaurants in the Hudson Valley to source the bulk of its ingredients from local suppliers, and was recently voted “best Italian restaurant” in Hudson Valley magazine.  In her quest to make the food of local farmer’s available to everyone, Laura also created Gigi Market in 2006, a full -time, year round indoor farmer’s market situated on a working farm in Red Hook.  Gigi market’s mission is to reach out to local growers. It does so by collecting their produce and selling it directly to the public with no additional markup.  With its doors open every day, this market creates a real “eat local” option to the community and promotes strong links between growers and consumers. Over the past twenty years, she has become an expert on the local foods landscape of the Hudson Valley, her home and the home of her influential Rhinebeck Italian-Mediterranean restaurant, Gigi Trattoria.  Beginning in 2001, Gigi Trattoria was one of the first restaurants in the Hudson Valley to source the bulk of its ingredients from local suppliers, and was recently voted “best Italian restaurant” in Hudson Valley magazine.  In her quest to make the food of local farmer’s available to everyone, Laura also created Gigi Market in 2006, a full -time, year round indoor farmer’s market situated on a working farm in Red Hook.  Gigi market’s mission is to reach out to local growers. It does so by collecting their produce and selling it directly to the public with no additional markup.  With its doors open every day, this market creates a real “eat local” option to the community and promotes strong links between growers and consumers. 
Her credentials as a nutritionist are impressive. From 1998 to 2003 Laura was the culinary coordinator of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Prevention and Wellness Center where she showed individuals and corporate clients how to create delicious and healthy food.  She has also been affiliated with the Strang Cancer Prevention Center since 1995 and is the author of The Strang Cancer Center Prevention Cookbook in collaboration with Michael Osborne, M.D., Susan Oliveria, Jacques Pepin and celebrity chefs Charlie Trotter, Gray Kunz, Michael Mina and Michael Romano (McGraw Hill). Laura is also the nutrition consultant and a Board Member  to Healthy Children/Healthy Futures, a program of Healthy Directions which is a national initiative sponsored by MetLife and developed by Strang Cancer Prevention Center to promote healthful eating and exercise to children. She has written the nutrition guidelines for the CIA in Hyde Park and developed the nutrition curriculum for French Culinary Institute. 
Laura’s work is nationally recognized.  In May 2005, she was named one of five “amazingly gifted and giving food professionals” by The Oprah Magazine, Laura is a passionate believer that eating well and eating for wellness should never be exclusive of one another.  She shares this message through her consulting firm, Chef4Life, encouraging everyone from large corporations to interested individuals about the need for fresh healthy food in everyone’s diet.
Pensiero is a frequent contributor to Prevention, and Figure and Shape magazines and is an advisor on the board of Today’s Diet and Nutrition.  She is a frequent contributor to The Oprah Magazine (which featured as many as 10 of Pensiero’s recipes in the January 2006 “Getting Started” issue which was also recently featured on the home page of CNN.com).   Articles of hers have also appeared in Fitness magazine, Real Simple, and Your Way.
She is an accomplished author having written the recipes and contributed to numerous books such as:  The French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Healthy Cooking: From America’s Foremost French Chefs, Jacques Pepin’s kitchen , The American Harvest and The Da Fiore Cookbook.  In the “For Dummies” series Laura has contributed to: Healing Foods for Dummies, The Healthy Heart Cookbook for Dummies, Slow Cookers for Dummies, Mexican cooking for Dummies, and Italian Cooking for Dummies.  Laura provided the nutritional consultation for the bestselling book French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mirielle Guiliano (Knopf).
In electronic media, Laura has appeared on the Martha Stewart show, the Larry Hughes radio show (WEOK, Poughkeepsie), on NBC – live at five and on WNBC.  She also did a ten city media tour promoting the Strang cookbook.  Laura has conducted numerous satellite and desk side tours across the country.  Recently she was tapped by Food Arts magazine as a food and nutrition liaison for a series of discussions with NYC’s top ten chefs on how issues like vegetarianism, sustainability, health and nutrition are handled by top tier food industry players and how their philosophies and actions might trickle down to the lodging and food service industries. The tour was sponsored by Sodexho Marriot and Kellog’s Corp through Food Arts magazine. 
Laura’s expertise has been tapped by both for-profit and non-profit institutions, including Tri-Lamb and the National Peanut Board.  In January 2006, she became a spokesperson for The National Peanut Board helping to promote the importance of nuts in a healthy diet.  That same year, Laura helped launch Just Salad  (51st/Lexington in NYC) where she developed the menu and recipes for its first locations and is a chef /partner.  That concept has been a great success and Just Salad recently opened its third store in the financial district in NYC (100 Maiden Lane.   Laura recently joined the board for Vaughan’s Foods/Allisons Gourmet Kitchens who recently went public and  business model focuses on delivering fresh food to customers, region by region. 
Her  knowledge of the Hudson Valley is an out -growth of her long term work helping people create healthier lifestyles.  She has close ties with other chefs in this area including Michel Nischan, with whom she collaborated to create healthy meals for an institutional client and seasonal chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill Restaurant, a fellow recipient of the Oprah award.   Her expertise led the Sustainable Table organization, in conjunction with Farm Aid, to choose Gigi Market this year as the last stop in the highly successful Eat Well Guided Tour of America which was promoted on the group’s website and by live webcast.   As a result of her efforts, she has been asked to be an ongoing consultant for the Sustainable Table group.  She has also recently been invited to join the board of Wilderstein, a Hudson Valley conservancy organization, in recognition of her enduring commitment to the region.
She is a member of the Hudson Valley Slow Food group, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs organization and the Chefs Collaborative.  She has been most recently tapped to head the celebration of 400 years of Hudson Valley farms next year with the Dutchess County Board of Tourism.
What is clear is that the food world today has moved closer to Laura’s enduring beliefs that the ideas of eating sustainably and locally can be approached in a way that is flexible, adaptable and reasonable.     Consumers want choices, control over portion sizes, and healthy safe food. By working together, health professionals, food service leaders, reporters, chefs, and farmers, can demonstrate that even small changes yield powerful results.
Laura’s passion for the Hudson Valley, its growers and artisans, has given her a respected name among other food professionals. . .

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Laura Pensiero