Let’s just say, right away, that Timothy O’Lenic of Davidson is an overachiever.
At 53, he’s doctor who’s certified in two areas, anesthesiology and critical care.
He’s also a former chef. Growing up in Pittsburgh, he started working at a restaurant where a friend’s father was chef when he was 14. By 16, he was head chef at another restaurant.
He had two businesses, catering and tutoring, in high school. He still graduated at 17. And then he couldn’t figure out what to do next.
“I was sitting home thinking, ‘Is this all there is in life?’ I might have stayed in the kitchen my entire life. I basically got bored.”
He followed his brother to college in South Florida, and picked chemistry as a major: He wanted to save the world’s water supply. Instead, since his fellow chem students were pre-med, he decided to do that.
He loves medicine, loves taking care of people, loves science. He doesn’t always love the modern medical business, though.
“It’s become very money-oriented. We do things not to care for patients, but to generate more money.”
Casting around for a way to feel more like he’s helping people, he realized that his early life, as a chef, was the way to go. This time, he decided to teach people to cook.
“The easiest concept if you want to get healthy is to get in a kitchen.”
He tried writing a cookbook, “On the Doctor’s Table,” but it was too long, too serious. Then he came up with a new idea: “Breakfast At Timothy’s,” with recipes arranged from simple to ambitious and lots of instruction.
A single father with a teen daughter, he loves to cook breakfast. Breakfast, he says, is the key to so much. Kids who eat a good breakfast learn better. And too many people mess up breakfast, he says.
“How to cook an egg – people murder that. People come over and taste my eggs and say, ‘Oh my God, that’s how they’re supposed to taste?’ Creamy and soft, not hard and rubbery.”
A doctor, encouraging eggs? He waves off cholesterol fears. New research is reshaping what we know about eggs and cholesterol, he says: “In five years, that’s going to go away.”
With the school year back in swing, I asked the chef/doctor for three tips on easy weekday breakfasts:
▪ Hard-boiled eggs. First, don’t overcook them – bring them to a boil, take them off the heat, covered, and let them sit for 10 minutes. Then put them in ice water. “That’s an easy thing – you can boil a dozen eggs on Sunday.” When your kids are heading out the door, hand them a hard-boiled egg to eat on the way.
▪ Homemade granola. The commercial ones are loaded with sugar and salt, and homemade is simple to make. “Seriously, it takes a half-hour. Have that with yogurt and fruit and it’s a perfect breakfast.”
▪ Buckwheat pancakes. “You can make the batter the night before and cook it the next day. It’s as simple as could be.”
You might grab a copy quickly. There’s no telling what Dr. Tim will do for a third act.