John R. Garrett, MD, FACS cooks up a heart-healthy dish with Chef Matt Hill at Liberty Tavern in Arlington.
John R. Garrett, MD, FACS, Virginia Hospital Center Chief of Cardiac, Vascular& Thoracic Surgery, is a highly skilled heart surgeon. He’s also an accomplished chef with a passion for fresh, healthy cuisine.
As a wellness advocate, Dr. Garrett is always looking for ways to help Virginia Hospital Center’s patients improve their diets. So, he recently spent some time in the kitchen with Matt Hill, executive chef of Arlington’s Liberty Tavern and its sister restaurants, Northside Social and Lyon Hall.
Dr. Garrett and Chef Hill, who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, both love to create delicious heart-healthy dishes that use local, seasonal ingredients.
Like most cooks, Dr. Garrett and Chef Hill are influenced by their heritage and like to bring their roots to their recipes. Both native Southerners, Dr. Garrett is from Alabama and Chef Hill is from North Carolina.
In Liberty Tavern’s kitchen last month, Chef Hill and Dr. Garrett prepared halibut with herb salsa verde, roasted potatoes and broccoli rabe. The dishes offer a great combination of flavors; they also deliver a nice serving of protein and heart-healthy oils, antioxidants, dietary fiber, potassium, calcium and vitamins A, C and K.
“My grandparents were farmers near Charlotte,” Chef Hill says. “They grew soybeans and corn and had their own chickens, pigs and steers. I helped my grandfather cure hams and my grandmother with canning all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I got the cooking bug from them.”
Chef Hill has been in the restaurant business for 22 years. During that time, he’s seen his dining guests become more aware of eating healthy. As a result, his menus offer a wide range of options.
“Our cuisine features the best of fresh, in-season ingredients,” he says. “You can find good alternatives in all of our restaurants to make you feel good about what you’re eating — whether vegan or lighter pasta. We want our restaurants to be places where you enjoy eating every day and where you can get something healthy or splurge.” To make the dishes at the restaurants as healthy as possible, Chef Hill says he is always aware of what goes into the food “from beginning to end. I enjoy lighter sauces with broths and infused oils. They produce brighter tastes without covering up the dish with fat, which can muddle flavors.”
Home cooks can make the same choices, he says. Instead of using heavy sauces with butter or cream, try zesty flavor enhancers, such as salsa verde or chimichurri. Freshly snipped herbs add brightness to dishes without adding fat, carbohydrates or calories.
For the recipe from Dr. Garrett’s cooking session with Chef Hill, visit www.virginiahospitalcenter.com/recipes.

To read Newsletter Articles of the Winter 2015 issue, click here.

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