The Australian Financial Review: The Restaurant Lovers Guide to Wellness
“I have no doubt that freshly picked, sustainably grown local food will become the ultimate luxury.” — Alla Wolf-Tasker AM
Wellness dining by Necia Wilden
Fancy a matcha infused with marine collagen? It’s trending in LA, apparently. And why would you want one? Well, partly because you’ve moved on from turmeric lattes, of course, but mainly because marine collagen is the “supreme protein that helps to fight ageing and plump the skin”. And if you don’t have lovely plumped-up lips in LA…
Ah, wellness. Can it get any worse? It’s already a multibillion-dollar industry, founded on the premise that the condition formerly known as “health” can be attained by an unrelenting diet of superfoods, functional foods (as opposed to dysfunctional foods, presumably) and #Buddha bowls, all with amazing gut-healing, immune-boosting, mood-enhancing and anti-ageing qualities. Well, that’s if you swallow the marketing claims.
Remember when it was enough to just eat good, fresh, real food, free of any added crap? You still can. Yes, there is a way to eat wisely—and well — without needing to either a) stay home and cook everything from scratch; or b) spend half your life in preachy vegan cafes.
It’s called Going Somewhere Nice for Dinner.
Now, you might have been too busy enjoying your native botanical-infused cocktail to notice, but restaurants are fast turning into havens for the health-conscious. And the more elite the establishment, as a rule, the more salubrious the menu.
It could be as simple as “Housemade sourdough with kefir butter; as assertively plant-forward as “Charred broccoli, fermented garlic, pickled desert lime” or as considered as “Southern bluefin tuna, smoked avocado, shiso and radishes from the farm, furikake (followed, of course, by a low-sugar dessert).”
The words might differ from menu to menu, but the song remains the same: this is food that not only looks and tastes great, but is going to make you feel great, too.
Welcome to wellness, modern restaurant-style.
“If you look at the highly processed, globalised diets of the developed world -and the rapid emergence of fake foods from Silicon Valley – I have no doubt that freshly picked, sustainably grown local food will become the ultimate luxury.”
So says Alla Wolf-Tasker of regional icon Lake House, where the menus are literally built from the ground up: over the past 12 months, her Daylesford restaurant has increasingly relied on produce grown nearby at the family’s fledgling 38-acre property. Dairy Flat Farm.
“Yes, there’s the daily ‘just-picked’ aspect.” says Wolf-Tasker. “The scent, the natural juiciness of the product. But there’s also the nutritional soundness. There’s no long transport, no storage time. And there’s the soil…if you care about health you have to care about the soil.”
It’s fair to say chefs have not always been this concerned about your health. Au cotttraire. Not so long ago, upscale restaurants were more usually associated with excess and overindulgence. But that was before wellness came along. And “plant-based” (so much sexier than dreary old “vegetables”), “sustainable” and “dietary requirements” — all now as much a part of dining at a good restaurant as proper sourdough and a curated beverage program.