Julia Child was not pleased with Kathy Goldberg’s question.
In the early 1990s at a food event in Aspen, Colo., Goldberg, now an MHealthy dietitian, dared to ask Child about substituting olive oil for butter in a traditional bechamel (white) sauce recipe.
“She said, ‘Why would you want to do a thing like that and mess with one of the mother sauces,’” Goldberg recalls. “I learned later at the University of Michigan and through studying food science that it could be substituted, and it’s healthier.”
The Birmingham-Bloomfield Hills native, who studied pre-med as an undergraduate at Hillsdale College, typically cooked in her dorm room because she disliked cafeteria food. “It all tasted pre-packaged and flavorless and not appealing in any way to my senses,” Goldberg explains.
Instead, on hot plates in her dorm she cooked spaghetti Bolognese, with fresh vegetables and meat sauce, and stuffed veal with wild mushroom sauce. After moving into a sorority house, Goldberg used the kitchen, and her Pi Beta Phi sorority sisters managed shopping lists.
Upon graduation, she decided to change her path from medical school to honing her skills in the culinary arts. She worked as a chef at Detroit’s London Chop House and then for the area’s premiere caterer. Ten years into that experience, she returned to her love of medical science and entered graduate school at U-M, earning a Master of Science degree in nutrition. “I decided to blend my passions for great food and medicine and work in the field of nutrition, lifestyle medicine and disease prevention,” she says.
That training guides her MHealthy cooking demonstrations. They happen from 6-8 p.m. most Wednesdays, September through May, at the MHealthy kitchen in the East Ann Arbor Health and Geriatrics Center on Plymouth Road just east of U.S. 23. She and colleague Lizzie Burt are presenters. “We say its dinner and a show,” Goldberg says. They demonstrate knife skills, healthy cooking techniques, discuss nutrition and offer food samples. “We talk about vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and protein. We talk about why it’s worth it to make great tasting food that’s so good for you,” Goldberg says.
She also shows how to choose ingredients for batches of soups and other dishes that can be served fresh and frozen for later. Goldberg says taking the time to cook can be enjoyable.
“Make your favorite beverage and put on some comfortable clothes before you get started. There’s a great reward of something fresh and delicious,” she says, adding most can find time on a weekend to make a soup, or wash some salad greens and make vinaigrette dressing. “I try to encourage people to visit farmers markets, even go to a grocery store that features organic food. It’s really inspiring to see the vivid colors of the fruits and vegetables.”
Her favorite cuisine is “almost anything Asian. I just like the powerful flavors: ginger, garlic and lemon grass, fish sauce and chilies,” says Goldberg, who has studied cooking in France, Italy and Argentina. “I have a thirst for continuing education.”
Outside of work, Goldberg spends hours volunteering with groups including the Depression Center, Taubman Medical Research Institute, Project Healthy Schools — she serves on the board of directors — and the University Musical Society. “I was chair of the UMS Ford Honors Gala this past April that featured Joshua Bell. I got to sit between Joshua and Mary Sue (Coleman),” she says. “I just feel that it’s important to give back to the community, that the private sector can do a lot to help people.”
Goldberg enjoys many activities including golf. “I just love the terrain and the different seasons.”
She and husband Tom have two grown sons, Jimmy and Briggs.
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Kathy Goldberg, dietitian at MHealthy, on pursuing healthy foods: “I try to encourage people to visit farmers markets, even go to a grocery store that features organic food.”
“While the Cat was Away, the Ninth Annual A&D Staff Show,” noon-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at Work • Ann Arbor, 306 S. State.