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updated: 1/18/2012 10:54 AM

Weight-loss leads to better cooking, smarter eating

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  • Peter Doherty shed 200-plus pounds with the help of bariatric surgery; he's kept it off with the help of home cooking and portion control.

       Peter Doherty shed 200-plus pounds with the help of bariatric surgery; he's kept it off with the help of home cooking and portion control.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

By Sally Eyre

Peter Doherty is half the man he used to be. Literally.

"I weighed over 400 pounds. I used to eat massive amounts of food. I was only concerned with quantity, not quality," says Peter, a flooring sales rep from Buffalo Grove.

After making the decision eight years ago to have bariatric surgery he lost more than 200 pounds and has kept it off.

"It's all about portion control. I'm forced to watch it, because I just can't eat that much at once," he says, bemoaning the bigger-is-better attitude at restaurants.

"I've become a better cook because of this," he adds. "Because I can only eat a small portion of food, I want that portion to taste fabulous."

Peter's cooking inspiration initially came from his Greek grandmother.

"Some of my fondest memories are of watching her cook in the kitchen. She was a 'taste and feel' kind of cook; she never used recipes. Unfortunately, she died when I was a sophomore in high school, before I really had a chance to learn how to cook from her."

Her influence undoubtedly contributed to the fact that Peter loves any and all ethnic foods.

"I've never met a food I didn't love," Peter laughs. His recipe repertoire includes soups, chili, all kinds of breakfast foods and his grandmother's meatloaf and pasta.

"I love pasta. Someday I intend to learn to make it from scratch, but for now I just buy it as fresh as I can get it."

One of Peter's dreams is to someday take culinary classes.

"I want to have the proper amount of time to devote to it so I can really absorb it."

For now, he contents himself with watching the Food Network, shopping at gourmet grocery stores and cooking often.

"I love to watch food shows, but I also love the construction shows and travel shows, so I have to choose when I do have the time to watch TV. When Rachael Ray first came out years ago, I was infatuated. I tried to make some of her 30 minute meals, but they really take longer than that. You'd need a sous chef behind the scenes chopping things if you wanted to be done in 30 minutes!"

A trip Mariano's Fresh Market is an inspiration on its own.

"For somebody like me who loves to cook, it's so wonderful. There are six different kinds of scallops to choose from! You feel like a chef out on the pier picking out foods for the day."

But what Peter loves most, is just cooking for people. For the past six years he has done all the cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And he loves cooking for his girlfriend.

"I love to watch people eat," he says. "I guess it's because I can't!"

To suggest someone to be profiled here, send the cook's name, address and phone number to Deborah Pankey c/o Cook of the Week, Daily Herald Food section, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006 or to

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