Food & Beverage: Capitalizing on Your Menu
By Gabriele Kurz Executive Wellbeing Chef Talise Wellness, Jumeirah Group | November 27, 2011
Food professionals are known to be creative and innovative and have incorporated the latest food trends into their menus. Trends change similar to fashion and sometimes after a short period of time, a probably much longer lasting movement can be seen making its way into menus and contemporary food offerings of all kinds and levels: the interaction between food, nutrition and health.
Being an old and well known wisdom "you are what you eat" it is definitely quite a new challenge for the restaurant world. It represents a positive approach to optimizing nutrition not only in so called diets, but in the reality of our very own culinary world. However, it exposes chefs and food handlers to a broader understanding of what food does with our bodies, not only what it does for our palates and the Wow effect it has for the eyes. It challenges their creativity to look at their ingredients in a completely different way. It becomes increasingly more important to select ingredients carefully, to combine them wisely, to use the suitable preparation techniques. In brief they must find a way to the equilibrium of taste, presentation and health benefits.
Where in diets people have to follow strict guidelines to achieve their goals, be it long term or short term, they usually feel the restrictions in terms of lack of flavors, lack of excitement and overall lack of culinary experience as a definite loss of quality in life. I have never seen anyone who did not long for the time before his diet and a reunion with all the loved habits like eating out in restaurants, having all the favorite food again, which has been banned from the menu for a while.
What if restaurants would be able to offer food easily compatible with diets and most common food allergies, certain food requirements like gluten free, macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, raw food, low fat or low carbohydrate dishes? Not to mention sustainable food sources and ingredients such as organic farmed vegetables and fruits or fish which do not count to the endangered species for example? It would draw a complete different, yet sophisticated, and modern picture of sustainable menus available in delis, cafes, on buffets, and on eclectic menus of high end restaurants.
We can definitely see the culinary world changing at the moment, with imaginative chefs taking seriously into consideration what our daily food means to the human being. It means to not only to repeat and realign some salads topped with goats cheese, one pasta dish and the boring steamed vegetable platter to fulfill our duty. It means to really go into depth in nutrition knowledge and use all our creativity, high quality ingredients and preparation techniques to bring to life what customers expect today and in the future.
Knowing that fifty percent of health and wellbeing comes from the way of eating and drinking it is surprising that there has not been more items on restaurant menus that offer a great synergy of healthy life style by providing flavors with big impact in conjunction with the right balance of food and beverage. The reason could be the gap between culinary education and nutritional knowledge of food professionals. There is either a nutritionist, or a chef. Rarely one person incorporates both and can work from both angles, building the necessary bridge between the two pillars of what is absolutely essential to bring a nutritionally balanced and culinary innovative menu to life.
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