Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Eating trends and allergies put chefs on hands-on diet

Andrew and Rayne Embley and Dean Cox share ownership of the Claremont restaurant with Anna Watts and Pete Manifis.

Andrew and Rayne Embley and Dean Cox share ownership of the Claremont restaurant with Anna Watts and Pete Manifis.



As an increasing number of customers with dietary requirements walk through restaurant doors, chefs are changing the way they run their kitchens.


It's estimated that one in 100 Australians have Coeliac Disease (intolerance to gluten), but many more are choosing to adopt a gluten-free diet, and as people become more interested in the health benefits of certain foods kitchens are flooded with requests from sugar-free and dairy-free to vegan-friendly.


At Beluga, executive chef Pete Manifis (who owns the restaurant with Rayne and Andrew Embley, Dean Cox and Anna Watts) has taken the unusual step of adding "waiter" to his CV.


Hip hop artist Drapht - real name Paul Ridge - opened Solomon's Cafe with dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free options.

Hip hop artist Drapht - real name Paul Ridge - opened Solomon's Cafe with dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free options.



"Having a chef on the floor allows your restaurant to become flexible – with dietary requirements and produce," said Ms Embley.


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"Wait staff going back to the kitchen saying 'Can we...?' when the chef is in cooking mode is hard, but if he's out doing it all he can talk to the customers knowing what's in the kitchen."


Manifis says the move onto the floor has made him more responsive to customers' needs.


"When you're in the kitchen and you're a chef and not talking directly to the customer, you can become a bit arrogant," Mr Manifis said.


"Being on the floor has made me want to accommodate for customers more and make them happy.


"You want them to feel as normal as everyone else while they're dining."


A 2013 report from Allergy and Immune Diseases Australia said 10 per cent of infants now had a proven food allergy and that food-induced anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, had doubled over the last ten years.


He said people were thinking more than ever about the kind of food they fuelled their bodies with.


"Vegetarians and vegans you see more of, but that's a choice thing," he said.


"There's definitely an increase in all kinds of requests."


The menu is annotated with produce source locations in response to customers' ethically-minded questions about where their food comes from, something Must owner and chef Russell Blaikie has also acknowledged as important.


Mr Manifis believes the increase in people with special dietary requirements has been caused by decades of eating refined, processed food.


"It's a lot to do with the food that we've been putting in our bodies over the last 15, 20 years," Mr Manifis said.


"It's from processing and things like commercial white bread which has really affected people.


"Now because of all the processing of the bread and the flour, people's bodies can't take it and that's why we're getting an increase in gluten free, lactose and dairy as well."


The changing tide against processed foods has fuelled the recent "clean eating" trend, which has swamped the social networking app Instagram with photos of green smoothies and healthy home-made food.


It was clean eating that hip hop artist Drapht focussed on when he opened Solomon's Cafe earlier this month - with organic, dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free options.


Drapht – real name Paul Ridge – opened the cafe after a "light bulb moment" he had while trying to find out how to deal with his own "large list of sensitivities and health issues".


Ridge says he realised there was a market for people who had similar dietary requirements and so put together a menu free of "nasty sugars, gluten, dairy, additives, preservatives, heavy metals, chemicals and toxins".


Ridge hopes he can pass on the knowledge from a decade of ingesting countless books on health, nutrition and disease through the cafe – he believes that no one diet is suitable for every person and believes the "clean" food will "heal and feed the body and mind".




Source: http://www.watoday.com.au/entertainment/your-perth/eating-trends-and-allergies-put-chefs-on-handson-diet-20130723-2qgq3.html

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