Throw out the dog food and make your dog a foodie

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn’s dogs will go from Kibbles ’n Bits to kale chips if an expert in canine cuisine has his way.

A first-ever dog food cooking class at the Brooklyn Kitchen will help pups take after their owners by becoming foodies, said self-described “Dog Food Dude” Rick Woodford.

“Dogs love food more than we think they do,” said Woodford, the author of the cookbook “Feed Your Best Friend Better” and the leader of the one-day seminar. “I never tell people that there is only one way to do it, but if you value buying local and organic foods and you say your dog is a family member, it kinds of make sense to extend that to your dog.”

Students at the July 28 class at the Williamsburg culinary center — which typically focuses on food for human consumption — will prepare and sample doggie dishes such as turkey “muttloaf” and salmon cakes, learn why homemade canine cuisine is delicious and healthy for pooches, and get a copy of Woodford’s book.

Woodford, who lives in Portland, Ore., says making fresh food for dogs can improve their health — and that it’s not all that different than serving people with dietary restrictions.

“Cooking for a dog is much like cooking for a diabetic child or a partner with heart disease,” said Woodford, who argues dogs need diets that are low in salt, spices, and fat. “Dogs will have the same reaction to good foods that people do. My big mantra is phytochemicals and antioxidants — the more of those foods you’re giving them, the better they’ll be in the long run.”

Woodford says dogs can even learn to love the healthy, fresh food that people associate with farmers markets and gardens.

“Our dogs love kale and the fava beans we just harvested,” said Woodford. “I’d rather give a dog a carrot than a milk bone any day,” he said.

Brooklyn Kitchen’s upcoming class is certainly not the first sign that the borough’s dogs have started to refine their palates: Robbie Dawg, Inc. began selling organic dog biscuits in Red Hook in 2004, and the hometown dog food entrepreneurs behind Evermore Pet Foods were so proud of their hormone- and antiobiotic-free pup chow that they ate it for a month to prove it was good stuff.

Woodford says he’s not worried about pleasing the potentially picky and jaded big city pooches in Brooklyn.

“I’ve been trying to turn all the dogs in Portland into foodies,” he said. “When these dogs get hold of my muttloaf, none of them are going to complain!”

And he disputes the notion that cooking special meals for dogs is excessive.

“How can it be pampering if you’re just feeding them real food? I’m not feeding them filet mignon,” he said. “It should not be a crime to give a dog a carrot.”

The folks behind Brooklyn Kitchen agree.

“Dogs are people too,” said co-owner Taylor Erkkinen.

DIY Meals and Treats for Dogs with Rick Woodford at Brooklyn Kitchen [100 Frost St. between Leonard Street and Manhattan Avenue in Williamsburg (718) 389–2982.] July 28, 2 pm. $25.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at
Updated 5:34 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

03 from BK says:
“Dogs are people too,” said co-owner Taylor Erkkinen.

no dogs are NOT people, never were, & never will be.

pure human vanity anthropomorphizing animals. there's something ethically wrong when americans already spend over $2 BILLION/yr on *PETS* yet tolerate, even ignore our *CHILDREN* going to bed hungry.

as barnum said "there's a sucker born every minute...AND somebody to sell something to em."
July 13, 2012, 7:56 am
o3 from BK says:
my deleted post about NOT anthropomorhizing animals was not vulgar nor profane.

eli's a big boy & can handle big boy comments which disagree.
July 13, 2012, 8:37 am
o3 from BK says:
my bad, after i refreshed i now see you didnt delete my post. my apologies
July 13, 2012, 8:38 am
Pat I. from That 70's Brooklyn says:
A dog is not - I repeat - IS NOT like a human being - not physically, intellectually or emotionally. if you don't walk him he'll sh8t on the carpet.

Although I love cats and dogs I will never ever treat them at the same level as I do my own child. My time and money get devoted to my family. The dog comes last.

Oh and he's writing a cookbook too! And teaching classes! tell me Mr. Woodford - how much of your earnings from these endeavors will you deposit in your dog(s) 401K - I mean you put him to work...and he is human-like.
July 13, 2012, 11:59 am
Debby from Mississippi says:
Wish I could attend! I cook meals for my dog and Foster dogs. Its easy to cook up a batch to freeze and serve for weeks. With all the dog food recalls and what actually goes into commercial kibble many are preparing meals and treats for their dogs.

Check out my recipes at
July 13, 2012, 12:18 pm
Malembi from BK says:
cook the ——ing dog
July 13, 2012, 12:30 pm
Debby from Mississippi says:
And by the way dogs can reason and converse.
July 13, 2012, 12:32 pm
Food from Brooklyn says:
"Dog food" is an invention of dog food companies. Feed a dog food.
July 13, 2012, 12:44 pm
Mat from Marine Park says:
When people who have chosen a vegetarian/vegan menu as their personal ethical/emotional "right way", and then try to continue and enforce that thinking into their carnivore pet's diet, they usually end up with digestive/kidney problems due to altered pH, dry, flaky unhealthy skin and coat, immune deficits and diabetes. But this drama queen/huckster will find his audience. It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!
July 13, 2012, 6:26 pm
Reggie from 2012 says:
The pet food industry are the charlatans whose product significantly decreases your animal's lifespan. Read the ingredients one day.

Pat's thinking is why millions of dogs and cats are abandoned and die in misery every day.
July 16, 2012, 8:49 am
Mike from Bay Ridge says:
Not everyone can or should raise a child. Better they find satisfaction with a dog and make their pet happy rather than endure misery and make a child unhappy. The world is full of people who should never be allowed near children much less be responsible for raising them. Not everyone is cut out the be a parent and, sadly, find that out when it's too late.

Society would be a better place if fewer people raised children and more raised dogs.
July 16, 2012, 1:48 pm
Rick Woodford from Portland, OR says:
First let me state that I am not trying to turn dogs into foodies. During our conversation I told the author of this piece that dogs naturally enjoy foods, primarily based upon scent rather than taste.

I do not advocate vegetarian diets at all. I do however show people how they can share the right fruits and vegetables with a dog even if it's as simple as sharing the right scraps off the cutting board.

Some people will say, "it's just a dog." Well you just don't know how great a dog can be when given the right training, care and yes...nutrition. Feeding my dog and dozens of dogs with serious ailments fresh foods prolonged their lives and enriched their health.

This is an elective that people can choose whether it's to share the right scraps in the appropriate amount, saving money by making cookies at home, serving a meal or nursing a sick dog. My only intention is to share with people that this is a viable option and that it does have health benefits.
July 17, 2012, 12:34 am
Rick Woodford from Portland, OR says:
And no, neither dogs nor corporations are people. My dogs don't sit at the dinner table - in fact they're not even allowed in the dining room while we eat our meals at the table. Our dogs are very good companions and in adopting them I made a promise to care for them. Nutrition is the number one component to a dog's health and longevity. So yes, I take that promise seriously.
July 17, 2012, 12:46 am
Mike from Soho says:
He is doing this to help dogs live a longer and better life... Some of these people that post wouldn't deserve this kind of food... WOW! Cut him a break and lighten up people...
July 17, 2012, 12:59 am
Mike from Soho says:
Mat from Marine Park....
Let me take you on a "dog walk" over the highest bridge in NYC, I will let you off your leash and throw a bone for you to chase! What an idiot!
July 17, 2012, 1:06 am
Mike from Soho says:
Mat and Pat... What tools you are!
July 17, 2012, 1:08 am
Pamela Parker from Upper West says:
Rick, I know you and you have a caring heart. Any dog lover will be happy to have your healthy cook-book for dogs in their arsenal. I was desperate to find healthy food alternatives for my dog Scout to help with his allergies. Later, when he became sick with cancer, I rejoiced any time he would be interested in eating something...anything. I wish I had your book then so I could have helped him live a more comfortable life.
NYC is a tough crowd Rick, don't let them get to you.
Pam Shrader (Parker)
July 17, 2012, 6:45 am
Scott Hall from West Side says:
Like people there are west-coast dogs too : ) I would like my copy of the book signed when you get back (with lots of good stories that confirm why we went west).
July 17, 2012, 1:36 pm
Anthony from Scarsdale says:
internet trolls exist everywhere. this guy just sounds like he wants to feed dogs actual meat/veggies rather than the processed stuff the big corpos put into their food in order to keep costs down.
July 17, 2012, 2:44 pm
Liz from San Diego says:
03 from BK and Pat I: Why so much anger directed at dogs being fed healthy diets? Pretty sure they aren't upset at what's provided for you to eat? Michelle Obama is handling healthy eating for children. That's a pretty high profile figure, let's let Rick handle healthy eating for dogs.
July 17, 2012, 10:54 pm

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