Chef – Hero of The Kitchen
Chefs have a vital role in making healthy eating an exciting reality for us all. Customer trends show that many people are looking for healthier eating options particularly if they eat away from home every day. Interest in healthy eating is one of the major consumer trends to emerge in last 20 years and represents an important and lasting commercial opportunity for chefs.
As well as escalating consumer demand, in some sectors, such as school catering, there are strict requirements relating to nutritional standards. Healthy options and nutritional information are now regularly included in contract catering menus.
Chefs can be highly influential in healthy eating. The ingredients and the proportion in which they are used, plus cooking and service methods chosen, can all influence the nutritional content of dishes or meals.
The most effective approach to healthy catering is to make minor adjustments to popular dishes which may involve:
- Small changes in portion sizes or adding a bread roll or jacket potato to a meal. This yields more starch in proportion to fat(effectively diluting the fat)
- Subtle modifications to recipes. For instance, make a pizza with a thicker base, add mushrooms and roasted peppers, top with less mozzarella than usual but add a sprinkling of Parmesan for flavour. Omit the salt, but rely on Parmesean, black pepper and chopped oregano to add flavour.
Chefs are vital in developing healthier recipes that work. The skill is in deciding how dishes can be modified without losing quality. Some highly traditional dishes are best left alone whilst subtle changes can be made to others with no loss in texture, appearance of flavour. See ‘Healthy eating tips’ throughout the recipe section.
The key to healthier catering is to:
- Make small changes to best-selling items.
- Increase the amount of starchy food.
- Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables.
- Increase the fibre content of dishes where it is practical and acceptable.
- Reduce fat in traditional recipe.
- Change the type of fat used.
- Select the healthier ways to prepare dishes and be creative.
- Be moderate in the use of sugar and salt.
Nutritional Information on Menus
A number of outlets, such as restaurant, pubs, leisure attractions and cafes, have introduced nutritional information on their menus. Many establishment have agreed to:
- Display calorie information for most food and drink they serve
- Print calorie information on menus.
- Ensure the information is clear and easily visible at the point where people chose their food.