Gluten-Free Star Caterer
Chef Nick Lorenz dishes gluten-free, dairy-free meals to a list of clients that include Steven Spielberg, Arnold Schwarznegger and Sean “Diddy” Combs.
[Updated July 7, 2015]
When Nick Lorenz was 13 years old, he prepared a tarte tartin dessert in his parents’ Los Angeles home that wowed family and friends. Today, the 32-year-old enjoys creating culinary magic as executive chef at Southern Wine & Spirits in Las Vegas and founder of Lorenz Catering.
A former bodybuilder, Lorenz now serves allergy-friendly spreads to a list of discerning clients that includes Steven Spielberg, Arnold Schwarznegger, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Halle Berry, and director Brett Ratner. His style of healthy cuisine brings rave reviews for its rich flavors and sweet, delectable tastes—all without gluten, dairy, or sugar.
Q: What got you interested in special-diet cooking?
Chef Lorenz: It just kind of evolved. The people that I work with wanted to eat this way. I actually believe everyone should eat this way. It’s the way I eat and I try to pass it on to others. I’m very healthy myself and I work out regularly. Bodybuilding and working out introduced me to this style of eating, trying to feel better about myself. I never went out expecting to get this name but it all fell into place.
Q: Are you seeing a growing interest in this type of eating with your celebrity clients?
Lorenz: Most definitely. So many products are GMO [genetically modified]. And dairy products contain hormones that are given to cows. And processed white sugar eventually breaks down and is stored as fat in the body—so who needs it?
Q: Do you think avoiding gluten, dairy and sugar is a trend that could last?
Lorenz: Personally, that’s what I’d like to see happen.
Q: Between your teen years when you began bodybuilding and where you are today, was there an epiphany when you decided to become a chef?
Lorenz: I started cooking by messing around in the kitchen when I was a kid. My family used to dine out a lot at nice restaurants and we had a good time. I liked and appreciated food at an early age. I never intended to go into the culinary field. I actually wanted to go into the entertainment business but I really liked to cook and I thought—how often do people get to do something that they really like for a career?
Q: What part of your bodybuilding background has added to your cooking experience and expertise?
Lorenz: Well, obviously, eating right and eating healthy—managing the body. To incorporate food with the body in order to look and feel better. And the ability to not only use food as nutrients for the body but also something you can enjoy.
Q: What are the dietary requests you receive most often from your celebrity clients?
Lorenz: No meat, no shellfish, no gluten, no sugar, no pork, no dairy, no bottom-feeder seafood.
Q: Your dishes have rich flavors, yet you omit many foods and ingredients. So what’s your secret for creating sumptuous taste while remaining gluten free, dairy free and sugar free?
Lorenz: If I feel a soup needs a little sweetness, I’ll juice an apple and add the apple juice straight to the soup. I use light coconut milk for dairy milk and extra virgin olive oil for butter. These items are rich enough and have the proper viscosity so you don’t need butter. I do use coconut butter but it’s expensive so I don’t recommend people go out and buy it. Obviously, various spices and salts help enhance flavor. Cumin is my favorite. And I like using coriander.
Q: Gluten is found in so many things. What about making desserts and baked goods without wheat flour?
Lorenz: Honestly, I don’t bake. All my desserts are fruit based. I don’t use any flour.
Q: What five key ingredients are common in your foods and recipes?
Lorenz: Australian lake salt, which is a very flaky salt and not iodized. Very good quality extra virgin olive oil, which helps promote great skin, eyes and hair. Light coconut milk instead of cream; if used properly, you won’t even taste the coconut. Citrus, such as lemon and tangerine–the juice or the zest, depending upon the application. And agave nectar.
Q: You’re executive chef at Southern Wine & Spirits in Las Vegas, along with your own catering business. Do you combine your gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free cooking with any regular recipes?
Lorenz: This might sound weird but I make up many recipes in the moment. If somebody asks me to do a menu, I just work around whatever fresh, seasonal foods are available and don’t add anything that contains gluten, dairy or sugar.
Q: Do clients actually taste a difference in the foods that you make?
Lorenz: That’s just it—they don’t! They’re somewhat shocked that my foods don’t contain gluten, cream, butter or sugar. It’s a nice surprise.
Q: What do you want people who taste your food to take away with them? What kind of experience do you hope they have?
Lorenz: I like to call my meals “rejuvenation food.” I hope people see that the stigma attached to “healthy” food is unfair—it doesn’t have to be bland and boring! I hope my food inspires people to start eating better.
Broccoli Puree Soup
“Arnold Schwarzenegger loves this soup and so does Steven Spielberg. It’s a big hit,” says chef Nick Lorenz. “I think it’s the light coconut milk that does the trick. For a different look, serve it hot in coffee cups instead of bowls.”
2 pounds organic broccoli florettes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 cups water
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
- Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1. Steam broccoli florettes for 5 minutes or until tender. Shock the broccoli (submerge it in icy water) to stop the cooking process and to retain its green color. Strain the broccoli, shaking the colander to remove excess liquid. Transfer broccoli to a food processor and chop until pasty. Transfer broccoli into a container, cover and refrigerate.
2. Place a pot over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Add thyme leaves and stir for a few seconds. Add water and coconut milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Then lower heat to medium and reduce by ¼.
3. Add chopped broccoli to reduced liquid. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Remove pot from stove and fill a blender half-way with soup. Carefully pulse liquid with blender lid slightly ajar and a kitchen towel in your hand over the lid. (This releases any steam the hot soup builds up as it’s processed.) After a few pulses, turn the blender on high for 2 minutes. Repeat this process until all the soup is blended.
5. Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in remaining tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
Each serving contains 230 calories, 18g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 81mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 7g protein.
Heirloom Tomatoes with Mint and Cilantro
This salad is super fresh and full of flavor. “A favorite of Halle Berry,” says chef Nick Lorenz.
5 heirloom tomatoes
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
¼ cup toasted pepitas, optional
❧ Salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1. Wash and dry tomatoes. Roughly chop them into large chunks and place them in mixing bowl. Set aside.
2. To make the dressing, place orange juice, agave nectar, mint, cilantro and mustard in a blender. Process until smooth. With blender on, slowly add the oil until emulsified.
3. Toss tomatoes with dressing until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to incorporate.
4. Season tomatoes lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with pepitas and serve.