By Christine Walters

Tripliate columnist

For six years, Michael Gomez has been helping the community fight obesity with his company, the DIET Cuisine CHEF. Once obese himself, Michael lost 135 pounds and teaches others how to do the same.

Q: What do you do and how long have you been doing it?

A: The name of my company is The DIET Cuisine CHEF, with DIET and CHEF capitalized to stand for Delight In Every Taste by Choosing Healthy Exciting Foods. What I do, for the last six years, is help people develop healthy eating habits. We need to educate our children, because obesity is affecting our town. I want this town to grow, not only monetarily, but healthy, so I plan to start the first therapeutic kitchen in this county by getting families, parents with children, dealing with healthy eating. So that's my whole concept. I'm writing a book called andquot;Love My Diet,andquot; that's going to be out in the next 40 days. I hold classes for parents and children with overweight issues, teaching them how to cook healthy foods and control their weight. I've had a TV show helping people lose weight. I also have the TEEN chef program, where I go into the schools to help children have a better lifestyle. As a correctional supervising cook at Pelican Bay State Prison, I am known as the prison chef.

Q: How long have you lived in Del Norte County?

A: I've been in this town for 17 years, originally from Los Angeles.

Q: What inspired you to go into this line of work?

A: Because I was in food service already, I saw a new need to help people learn how to cook and eat healthy. Plus I'm a testimonial of how to lose weight. I was obese and I've lost 135 pounds. My program helps me keep the weight off. I'm here to tell you the solution to obesity.

Q: What training or education did you need?

A: I have a BA degree in culinary arts and 35 years in the restaurant business. I worked at Disney Studios and a Malibu restaurant where I served Cary Grant, John Travolta and other stars.

Q: How has your business changed over the years?

A: People are now listening to me. They are believing what I'm doing and they want somebody to come and help them. When I first started this, nobody wanted to hear about obesity.

Q: Is your family involved in the day-to-day operation of your business?

A: My family is involved somewhat. They help me periodically by washing dishes and cleaning up.

Q: How do you define success for your business?

A: There's only one thing I have to do to be successful - help you lose weight and keep it off. The proof is in the pudding. I'm doing it and showing others, and they're doing it, too.

Q: What are your goals for your business? What are you doing to reach those goals?

A: I've hired a dietician from L.A. to go over all my menus to make sure we are giving people the proper nutritional value for my next book, so people can find recipes there to learn how to meet all their nutritional needs while losing weight. I plan to hold big seminars with 100 or more people at a time, with a staff cooking. I want to hold family camps for parents and children to learn together about healthy lifestyles, with exercise programs and cooking classes. I want kids to turn off the television and get outdoors.I'm going to try to have the first therapeutic cooking television program and I have a task force to help me develop it. We hope to get funding from the state through Jack O'Connor to start it. I want to help the boom-boom babies be healthy enough to buy homes and cars; they're already heading to the doctor.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your business?

A: To see people being happy being healthy. I can change people's lives.

Q: What advice could you offer to budding entrepreneurs?

A: Find a need, work hard and don't give up.

Reach Christine Walters, The Daily Tripliate's business columnist, at