Dover chefs team up to fight for healthy hearts.

Ancient physicians recognized long ago the heart as the body’s most important organ. While some of their assumptions were wrong – they thought it controlled emotions or that it moved air instead of blood – they got the basic idea right.

Today, a healthy heart is recognized as the key to overall good health. Exercise, a good lifestyle and proper nutrition all are important in keeping your heart in good shape.

With that in mind, four respected Delaware chefs are teaming up in a friendly competition to emphasize the heart’s importance to one’s overall well-being, and how taking better care of your heart means taking better care of yourself.

The Chefs Fight for Your Heart program is the brainchild of Ludovic Bezy, head chef at Michele’s Restaurant at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. He is joined by Chef James Harrison of the Clarion Hotel in New Castle; Chef Ryan Cunningham of Bonz Restaurant at Harrington Raceway & Casino; and Chef Hari Cameron of a(MUSE.) Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach.

Cameron was selected as the winner in the group’s first competition in 2012.

The event has the support of Delaware middleweight boxing champion Dave Tiberi, who emphasized how good nutrition kept him trim over his 28-fight career in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is sponsored by Delaware Heart and Vascular, P.A.

Bezy started Chefs Fight for Your Heart two years ago following the death of his 48-year-old brother Frederic, from a massive heart attack.

“I thought I needed to do something to make a difference in how people eat and to show the community there is a better way to eat,” he said.

One of the ways to do that is to teach children and their parents how to fix nutritious meals and to encourage lifestyle changes that will help people stay slim after they’ve lost weight.

Part of that is encouraging people to stop and think before they put food in their mouths, particularly snack foods, which often are high in salt and fat.

Bezy and his fellow chefs said they encourage families to plan their meals and then shop for the ingredients together. That way they know what’s in everything they eat.

“You can buy a pizza, but do you really know what’s in that pizza?” he said.

During their competition, the chefs plan to make their dishes less haute cuisine and more family oriented. Harrison and Cunningham said that means staying away from butter, which they use often.

Cameron said he plans meals similar to that of the meatloaf he prepared last year, which included bison meat, said to be much leaner than beef.

Also on hand was Bayhealth cardiologist Dr. Vincent D. Abbrescia, who said diet has a major effect on heart health.

“There are many … studies that directly relate dietary intake with development of atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries,” he said.

Better nutrition, Abbrescia said, “is directly related to the reduction of cardiac disease and cardiac events.”

The event will come to a head on Nov. 2 with what’s been dubbed the Knockout Dining Main Event at the Harrington Raceway & Casino, when the chefs debut their dinners with Tiberi acting as judge.

Tickets for the event are $35, and proceeds will go directly to the American Heart Association.

For more information, visit, or call (302) 423-4387.