There’s a new doctor in town, and when he’s not wearing scrubs, he wields a mean spatula.

Article first posted on Tampa Bay Times, May 16, 2010

Dr. Michael Scott Fenster, 46, is an interventional cardiologist. He has run clinical trials for stents and blood-thinning drugs. If you have a little chest pain, he’s your man.

In March, Fenster relocated from Dublin, Ga., to Hernando County to join Dr. M.P. Ravindra Nathan at the Hernando Heart Clinic. He began seeing patients in April.

But those suffering from hunger pangs might also benefit from the good doctor’s advice. When he’s not saving lives, he’s blogging at What’s Cookin’ with Doc and recently wrote a book with the same name. He calls it a physician’s prescription for culinary survival.

“Mushy risotto should just be illegal,” he tells would-be chefs in a recipe for Saffron Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Sweet Peas. “Add just enough liquid to keep the rice from burning.”

Fester grew up watching Julia Child’s cooking show with his mother.

“I would play hooky and pretend I was sick, but I’d be well enough to watch when it came on,” Fester said, laughing. “In retrospect, she probably knew I wasn’t really sick.”

When he was old enough to work, he started as a dishwasher at McDonald’s. Throughout college, he worked in restaurants and continued to hone his skills in the kitchen.

“I enjoyed cooking so much, but my first focus was medical school and being a physician,” he said.

Fester does the cooking at home and keeps up with his blog, posting new recipes and dispensing advice about the latest health research.

Energetic and talkative, Fenster will tell you that he loves to eat. His blog includes tidbits of his wisdom: A little wine can be good for you; don’t follow a new fad super food diet; have your fruits and veggies and a nice protein as well.

A certified wine expert, he occasionally prescribes a wine to go with a dish. The grilled pork chops with roasted vegetable medley go well with any cool rose, the doctor says.

But don’t let his gregarious wine-touting side fool you. He’s serious about patient health, and his blog includes research he’s read closely. Fenster loves research.

He has served as an assistant professor at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, and has served as an investigator for numerous studies and clinical trials of blood-thinning drugs and drug-coated stents.

“The general consensus is that stents are very safe, very helpful,” Fenster said. “When you have a blockage, it’s usually full of cholesterol. You put this mesh in, and it helps the artery stay open.”

Fenster, who is married and the father of three, also loves to learn. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia, he graduated summa cum laude last year from Auburn University’s physician’s executive MBA program.

Having focused intensively on medicine and cooking, Fenster felt he was weak in the area of business knowledge. Plus, this was an MBA focused on health care.

“It turned out to be an invaluable investment,” he said.

When he was finished, he could look at opportunities through new eyes. And Hernando County provided what Fenster called a great opportunity.

“I liked the opportunity here, working with an outstanding cardiologist who has been here for 30 years,” Fenster said.

Nathan was equal in his praise.

“I was looking for a partner,” Nathan said. “He is a wonderful interventional cardiologist with a lot of experience. He’s very young and vibrant. He will be a really good asset to this community.”