Mindful Meals

Chef Anoosh Shariat and Carlos Rivas.

Chef Anoosh Shariat and Carlos Rivas.

Ours is a world of diets and food trends.

Maybe you need to go on a juice cleanse. Or eat less red meat. Or get less fat and more protein.

But for Louisville chef Anoosh Shariat, it isn’t really that complicated. “My motto is to eat well and love life,” he says.

That’s the message of “Compassion & Cooking,” a breakfast series he’s hosting at Noosh Nosh, his casual Mediterranean-Italian joint on Brownsboro Road. The series marries Shariat’s food philosophy with lessons in mindfulness and well-being.

Just as in blending ingredients and spices in cooking, Shariat says being “well” is about balance and discipline. It takes both to separate the desire for food from its purpose.

“There’s this mindset,” he says, “you say, ‘I’m doing this to nourish my body.’”

The series is a partnership with Carlos Rivas, director of health and well-being at ProFormance, LLC. At each session, Rivas will cover topics ranging from nutrition to exercise physiology and performance psychology. The idea is to help attendees be more productive, resilient and energized through mindfulness – being more aware of not only what you’re eating but why, and how it affects your mind and body.

“We emphasize the connection of your thoughts, which lead to feelings, which lead to your actions,” Rivas says. “Mindful eating allows us to pay attention to emotional connections to food and the relationships involved around food.”

For example, you may indulge in more or less healthful food when you’re feeling stressed or sad. Or, when you’re happy and celebrating.

“Thinking about why you eat and when you eat will help you to start utilizing food in a proper way,” he relates. “You want to think of food as fuel.”

And as with fuel for your car, there are different grades of food fuel. There’s what Rivas calls “premium fuel,” such as fruits, veggies and lean meats, which give your body energy.

And then there’s “junk food, also called comfort food or treats, which leads to lethargy and disease,” Rivas says. “It’s your choice.”

Shariat says he’s been making that choice for about a quarter of a century as a vegetarian. He and his wife connected with Rivas a few years ago when they wanted to get serious about exercise.

Rivas’ and Shariat’s philosophies aligned, and they decided to launch this breakfast series a few weeks ago to spread the message of eating right and being well.

“If you don’t do it early on, you pay for it later,” Shariat says.

Shariat, a veteran of the Louisville dining scene, has owned Shariat’s, Browning’s Restaurant and Brewery, Park Place and, more recently, Anoosh Bistro.   

Earlier this year, he opened Noosh Nosh, where the menu carries dishes like pizza, flatbreads, pasta and sandwiches. But Shariat says eating well shouldn’t mean choosing between health and flavor.

Plenty of options on his menu are marked as gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian. Shariat says it just takes finesse – a mastery of raw ingredients, aromatics and fresh herbs and spices.

“You can have good flavors,” he says. “It can be exciting.”

Each session in the breakfast series will be held at 9 a.m. on the third Thursday of the month, starting November 17. The $20 admission includes breakfast, a recipe from chef Shariat and a discussion on well-being from Rivas. VT

For more information, call Rebecca at 502.690.6585.

STORY BY BAYLEE PULLIAM