Local chef promotes healthy eating

Local chef promotes healthy eating
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Melissa Gibson | Times SentinelHEALTHY COOKING: Rick Whiteman demonstrates safe ways to handle a knife and slice vegetables as he walks guests through a selected dish.

Rick Whiteman has always loved cooking.

Several years ago, he was working at a stressful job with long hours and spending three meals behind a desk.

After a major health scare, Whiteman began prioritizing what he felt was important. He took a different position within his company, began choosing foods that were healthier by trial and error and lost more than 150 pounds.

“I was at the store doing my own shopping and noticed a lot of people buying processed foods, and they often had children,” he said. “I saw a huge need and started working with individuals with developmental disabilities and families on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits to learn how to stretch their dollars.”

The funding for his original program has long since been depleted, but as families left his class, they used food pantries significantly less because they had learned to buy healthy foods that would last longer.

Still, Whiteman’s love of teaching healthy eating alternatives continued to grow into what is now Rick’s Cooking School, a business that offers a variety of unique services.

“I got started by making my tomato basil hummus. It’s my signature dish, and I sold it locally at a shop and restaurant in Zionsville that are no longer here. At the time, I was making 30 to 40 pounds of hummus a week. From there, I started going into customer’s homes and booking events,” Whiteman said.

He teaches about a dozen public classes a year, each…

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