Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. – Every day, Craig Zeleznik dines on dog food. Most of his customers do as well. When entrees include ingredients like hormone-free baked Chicken breast, ground New Zealand leg of lamb, slow-roasted ground pork and ground shoulder of Nebraska Angus beef, dog food suddenly becomes appealing to canines and humans alike.
A chef who graduated from the International School of Culinary Arts and climbed the ladder at fine dining restaurants in south Florida, Zeleznik is the founder and culinary mind of Chef K9’s Doggy Bistro and Bakery (http://www.chefk9.com), which specializes in preparing gourmet meals for dogs specific to their breeds and nutritional needs.
From American Pit Bull Terriers to Yorkshire Terriers and breeds from all letters of the alphabet, Chef K9’s offers fresh dishes that contain fresh, whole foods that are prepared according to National Research Council guidelines and formulated by a canine nutritionist based on breed, age, gender, and health needs. They are vacuum-packed for freshness and can be shipped anywhere in the continental U.S. The company also makes a selection of dog treats and dog pastries.
All ingredients are restaurant quality and fit for human consumption. There are no added chemicals, by-products, meat meals, artificial colors or flavors, or preservatives – all of which are commonly found in commercial grade dog food.
Zeleznik, who earned a fitness and nutrition degree from FloridaStateUniversity before graduating from culinary school, worked as a chef for fine dining restaurants for 10 years before launching Chef K9’s. For several years, he created homemade meals for his own dog, and then he formulated doggie dinners for the canines of friends and family members.
Chef K9’s debuted in the kitchen at Zeleznik’s home before he moved into a catering facility where he shared room with a chef of human cuisine. He then acquired the entire space before outgrowing that and moving into a storefront in Pompano Beach. As he did when he prepared delicacies at fine dining restaurants, Zeleznik emphasizes taste, texture and presentation with his Chef K9 creations, only with dog food the presentation part is mostly for the human companions who buy the meals.
Before opening Chef K9’s, Zelenik poured himself into canine nutritional research and was aghast about what he learned regarding the ingredients in commercial-grade dog food. Sucrose, propylene glycol, rancid fats, animal digest (which is essentially a broth made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals) and chicken’s feet and feathers (used as a protein source) find their way into bags of food and that is in addition to the myriad of chemicals and preservatives that require a dictionary for most consumers to understand.
Chef K9’s ingredients are not only nutritious, but they are appetizing, too. Take the meal for boxers, for instance. It includes Slow-Roasted Ground Pork, Farm Raised Hormone Free Chicken / Turkey with Pearl Barley, Roasted Idaho Russet Potatoes, Sautéed Cabbage, Steamed Yellow Squash, California Broccoli, and Fine Ground Fresh Grated Carrots with Fresh Baked and Toasted Rye Croutons with High Oleic, Organic Safflower Oil and a touch of Garlic.
“We love dogs, and it is our desire to help them live long and healthy lives,” Zeleznik said. “Many of the chronic issues and degenerative diseases our dogs experience today are caused by improper diets and inferior ingredients used by the commercial dog food industry.
“Through the extensive research we did, we discovered that it is impossible for any one brand of dog food to be complete and balanced for every single breed, “ he added. “We also learned that the actual ingredients found in a bag of dog food differ greatly from their advertisements and their claims on the bag itself.”
So each breed of dog could effectively digest his or her food, Zeleznik and his team of nutritionists started cooking freshly prepared meals for their dogs using ingredients that are indigenous to the particular breed’s country of origin.
“We now prepare meals for more than 40 different breeds of dogs, all of which show positive effects from the diets we provide,” Zeleznik added. “We have custom meal plans for dogs with particular conditions and chronic illnesses, and dishes for mixed breeds.”
Zeleznik is quick to admit the common practice of sharing a meal with his own dog.
“These ingredients and dishes are just as good as what you will find at many restaurants, so many of our customers don’t hesitate to try what their dog is having, just as I do in my kitchen,” Zeleznik said with a smile. “I bet you have never been tempted to try a bowl of the type of kibble you find in the pet section at your grocery store.”