Secret of a Healthy Chef


Ryan Ellis is familiar with the adage, “Never trust a skinny chef,” but for the executive chef at Fit Farm, it works the opposite.

Ellis, 32, joined the fitness and wellness retreat in Castalian Springs, Tennessee, about a year ago.

He said he’s learned about the significance of portion control in meals – for Fit Farm guests as well as himself.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California, Ellis is a former Marine sergeant who loves to bake.

At home he has a 10,000-pound outdoor brick oven in which he and his fiancé, Caroline, bake 13 different kinds of bread they sell at their business, ARE Trading Post. It’s named in honor of their 7-year-old daughter, Amelia Rose Ellis.

The operation is based at their 12-acre farm in Bethpage, Tennessee, where they also raise hogs and chickens and grow vegetables.

At Fit Farm, a wellness and fitness retreat tucked into the rolling hills of rural Tennessee, Ellis likes to introduce guests to new food concepts that include using herbs and aromatics to flavor meats and vegetables.

“I think it’s interesting to see people try something for the first time and their eyes light up,” he said.

He also enjoys doing demonstrations that teach about food preparation and how to get the most from fresh produce and meat.

Fit Farm is “magical” Ellis said because it generates nearly zero food waste. That’s because it knows how many guests will be on property and the size of the meals they’ll consume.

Whatever waste there is goes into a compost pile which is used to fertilize Fit Farm’s garden.

Ellis believes business should contribute to the greater good. He and Caroline do that at ARE Trading Post and Ellis sees it happening at Fit Farm.

“I like helping people view the world in a different way,” he said. Including the knowledge that chefs can be skinny.

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