Throw out the dog food and make your dog a foodie

Throw out the dog food and make your dog a foodie
Photo by Four Legged Photo

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. www.thebrooklynkitchen.com] July 28, 2 pm. $25.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

Woodford will cook some recipes from his new book, “Feed Your Best Friend Better,” at Brooklyn Kitchen on July 28.