Meet Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow (Part One)

Looking for great taste that’s high in nutrition? Guiding Stars Expert Chef helps you bring Guiding Stars into your kitchen.

Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow
Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow

Meet my good friend, Erin Dow – a chef with over 14 years of experience. She’s cooked for Anthony Bourdainand now she’s cooking for Guiding Stars. Erin creates original recipes using the Guiding Stars nutrition rating system each month to help you plan nutritious meals that everyone will enjoy.

I recently sat down with Erin to find out a little more about her approach. Here is Part One of my interview with our Guiding Stars Expert Chef.

Jaica Kinsman: How did you get into cooking?

Erin Dow: I was a server at a restaurant in Portland, ME during college. The restaurant started picking up backstage catering jobs for rock concerts at several local venues and I was brought along to help. Because of the intense working environment and demanding clientele, it was trial by fire, and I learned quickly. I did that job for about 6 years before I started my own catering company on the side, focusing more on the high-end cocktail parties, weddings, etc. I currently do both.

JK: What is your earliest memory of cooking?

E: I remember improvising what turned out to be buttercream frosting when I was about 10 years old. At the time, I was into baking, and we didn’t have a can of store-bought frosting—an emergency, as far as I was concerned. So I made frosting out of butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and I just thought I was the most innovative person in the world.

JK: What made you want to become a chef?

E: It was just a job at first, but it didn’t take long for it to become a passion. Shortly after I started cooking professionally I realized I was spending an awful lot of time and energy cooking at home, too. In fact, when I had my first child and was staying at home with him, I cooked a full meal every night and experimented with tons of new recipes and techniques; it was my hobby. Eventually, I was able to apply those new skills to running my own business. The personal passion fuels the professional passion.

JK: Describe your best cooking moment as a chef.

E: Hands down, it was my recent opportunity to cook dinner for Anthony Bourdain. I chose the dishes, prepared them in front of him, and he chose to eat them with me in the kitchen instead of in his private room. That choice made me feel like I had made the big time-that my chef idol was hanging out with my chef self.

JK: You’re a mother, how do you get your own kids excited about eating healthy foods?

E: As cliché as it is, getting kids involved with shopping choices and meal preparation really does increase their interest in healthy foods. My kids know that if the cereal doesn’t have at least two Guiding Stars, they may as well not even ask. They also know that if they make better choices overall, the chance of a special treat coming home is much improved. They feel empowered because the choice lies in their court. My kids are obsessed with my iPod, and I use that to my full advantage when I’m shopping as well: they run the Shopper app and I drive the cart.

Similarly, my 9-year-old has taken an interest in cooking, and even though he hates onions, for example, when it’s “his” spaghetti sauce and they go in, somehow they don’t bother him. He’s learning that some things are important for an overall taste profile even if they’re singularly disliked. So now I’m working with him on learning that you can’t taste the shredded squash or other healthy things I’ve been sneaking into their food for years.

JK: What do you find most challenging about cooking nutritious meals?

E: Very few people have the goal of simply “not being hungry” at the end of a meal; rather, people want to feel like they’ve eaten something enjoyable. Experimentation is really the only way we can find ingredient combinations that achieve that goal for us, and what I’m trying to do as Guiding Stars Expert Chef is take the guesswork out of the process. I personally am not satisfied by the “nuts and sticks” version of healthy eating and I try to develop recipes that assure good and balanced nutrition with a heavy dose of satisfaction.

JK: How did you hear about Guiding Stars?

E: I’ve used the Guiding Stars program to shop for my family since its inception at the Hannaford Supermarket chain in 2006.

Get started with the Expert Chef:



Jaica Kinsman is a Web Community Specialist at Guiding Stars Licensing Company. She is responsible for Internet marketing, community engagement and whatever else is cool and happening on the Interwebs. She designed the website and serves as editor for the Guiding Stars Blog. Jaica is also one of the founders of Social Media FTW.