Jared Koch is the founder of Clean Plates—a healthy, sustainability-focused NYC restaurant guide. Researching over 300 restaurants in New York City (eating at 125 of them!), Koch and food critic, Alex Van Buren, selected the top 75 to review in their book, Clean Plates NYC. Koch's interest in healthy eating and wellness began years ago. After passing on an acceptance into a NY area medical school, he became a successful entrepreneur. Feeling unfulfilled in spite of corporate success, he sold his stake in his company and has spent the past eight years practicing and studying yoga, meditation, nutrition and wellness, and becoming a nutritional consultant and health coach with an expertise in nutrition and meditation. Koch's goal with Clean Plates is to develop innovative ways to make healthier, more sustainable and delicious eating accessible to everyone.
MindBodyGreen: Did you get tired of eating out so much when you were researching places?
Jared Koch: We ate at about 125 restaurants and at the end we were definitely getting a lot in during a short period of time. At each restaurant, we had to order enough food in order to judge properly. We’d order at least three main dishes and three appetizers to make sure the quality was consistent throughout. I did reach a point at the end where I was like, "I’m never going to eat out again!" That lasted about a week.
MBG Do you have a favorite restaurant or dish?
JK: I don’t have a particular favorite place. The reality is that we follow an urban lifestyle and our dining needs change depending on where we find ourselves in the city, what the purpose of the meal is and what our budget is at the moment. We really tried to select a wide array of restaurants so users of the guide can find the healthiest, tastiest food no matter what their circumstances. I will say, though, that one of my favorite meals and overall experiences was at Blue Hill. Their attention to detail on all levels throughout the dining experience was meticulous.
MBG: What are some tips you can share with MBG readers when ordering food?
JK: I think one of the key criteria is, if you’re going to eat animal foods, to find places that at a minimum serve antibiotic and hormone free animals and preferably grass-fed, pasture raised from local farms. I think, ultimately people should be eating more of a plant-based diet. I’d recommend vegans and vegetarians to stay away from a lot of the fake, processed soy proteins and opt for a lot of vegetables, whole grains and beans. Another thing I always tell clients is no matter what you’re eating, always try to incorporate vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables along with a variety of other colors, because those are really the most nutrient dense foods available. They help counteract anything negative you might get from other parts of your meal.