Honestly, I'm not a fan of "diets" -- better to work on changing your overall attitudes and approach to food, *but* if you really need to follow a plan, then I would recommend the South Beach diet... It's written by a cardiologist, and it was written not as a weight loss diet, but as a heart-healthy diet, with the added benefit of helping his patients lose weight. It's very balanced, and I like his focus on whole foods and vegetables and the cutting of bad carbs (not whole grain, whole fruit good carbs).
Also, his approach causes the weight to come off your midsection first...As for abs...I find sit-ups and crunches help a lot more than diet, lol. The good news is that (well, at least for girls, probably for men, too) the ab muscles are a fast responding muscle group and the results last longer, even when you don't stay with a crunch routine.
While I haven't checked it out, I hear the Zone is very similar to South Beach in its reasonable lifestyle approach.
In any case, if you have insurance, you may be covered for a couple of consultations with a nutritionist -- that's always a good place to get started if you're looking to change your eating lifestyle (hard if you're a pastry chef, lol). Focusing on your health, not on a body-concept, will help you a lot more in the long run -- you'll be healthier, feel healthier, and you'll stay that way a lot longer.