Relief Chefs North West

[Photography: Suma Cooperatives]

At the beginning of the calendar year, the General Assembly of the United Nations proudly declared that 2016 would be the “International Year of Pulses.” Before your mind wonders onto thoughts of impending electromagnetic pulses and what not, know that a pulse is simply another, more encompassing term for a bean. And the timing couldn’t be better to bring these powerhouse foods back into the limelight.

As the saying goes, beans are good for your heart; the more you eat them, the more you…like them! And this is without-a-doubt true. Beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas are all fibrous carbohydrates with lower glycemic indexes than wheat or rice and many species are packed with antioxidants. The fiber and oligosaccharides in pulses are also good for culturing healthy gut bacteria to stave off colon cancer, boost nutrient absorption and a host of other positive effects. It’s also been found that one’s diet connects with how a person looks and feels, with beans helping culture good microflora to positively influence aging and mood.

With the mounting stigma against artificial flavors and ingredients, pulses represent both a natural thickener and “umami” additive as well as a vegetarian and vegan protein alternative. Yes, they can be ground up into powders, but they can be likewise be readily incorporated into soups or vegetable mashes. Beans also come in a rainbow of colors, allowing chefs to create dishes that are as pleasing and vibrant to the eyes as they are to the stomach.

Still don’t believe me? Here’s a quick chart outlining some basic nutritional values of popular bean varietals compared to chicken and beef:

In short, beans are excellent. This ‘year of pulses’ trend is part of a larger movement of going back to ancient grains and superfoods that are now scientifically proven to enhance your health. For this reason alone, hotels should look to become leaders in bean-dominant cuisine so that they can therein become advocates for healthier lifestyles.

It amazes me that beans aren’t more commonplace in the traditional Western diet. Undoubtedly if you make this a mandate, your chefs will already have a thousand different ways to bring pulses to the forefront of a menu. And for inspiration, organize a culinary tour of a few of the many cultures for which beans have been a staple for millennia both in terms of simple street food and fine dining – Indian, Lebanese and Ethiopian are three of my favorites.

Lastly, if your restaurant has answered the UN’s call, be sure to advertise your involvement through social media and other digital media so that your fans can come to appreciate your efforts in leading the charge for healthier diets.

This article was published in HotelsMag by Larry Mogelonsky on 22nd March 2016, under the title “The year of the pulse”

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)  

Posted 434 weeks ago

Excusing the stereotyping that may or may not occur in this particular episode we can promise that the cake is divine! Rich, heavy chocolate cake with a hint of Guinness and a gorgeous Guinness frosting that’ll have you running for the end of the rainbow! (makes 4)


75 g salted butter
125 g Guinness
150 g dark brown sugar
50 ml sunflower oil
40 g cocoa powder
1  large egg, beaten
75 ml natural yoghurt
125 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
150 g cream cheese
200 g icing sugar
25 ml Guinness


Preheat an oven to 180°C.

Melt the butter & Guinness in a pan along with the Guinness. Beat in the brown sugar, sunflower oil and cocoa powder until smooth and lump free.

Mix the eggs with the yoghurt in another bowl. Whisk in the chocolate and Guinness mixture. Fold in the flour and baking powder.

Divide between 4 half pint Guinness glasses so they are ¾ full, allowing for a rise and frosting. Bake for 40 minutes until risen and cooked through (test with a skewer in the center of each). Allow to cool fully.

Level off the top of the cake where it may have risen unevenly and blitz the cake pieces up to a crumb and wedge back into the gaps in the glass.

Make the frosting                                        

Dump all the frosting ingredients into a bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy. Spoon the frosting onto the top of each cake to look like head on a pint. Garnish with a shamrock made from fondant icing or mint leaves.

This recipe was published by SortedFood, under the title “Guinness Cake

Posted 435 weeks ago

[Photography: HAAB restaurant at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Mexico]

Banyan Tree Mayakoba recently introduced HAAB, an immersive outdoor dining experience that aims to bring to life the ancient culture, customs and cuisine of the Mayan people. Set in the jungle near the resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, HAAB commemorates how the ancient Mayans cultivated their food in agricultural fields and forest gardens.

[Photography: Banyan Tree Mayakoba’s HAAB is set in the jungle - HAAB restaurant at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Mexico]

HAAB is named after the Mayan zodiac inspired by the four basic elements of earth, wind, fire and water. These elements appear throughout the dining experience: Guests sit on the earthy forest floor, surrounded by water features and Caribbean Sea air, while participating in the preparation of the indigenous cuisine over an open fire pit.

The meal begins at sundown with a Mayan ritual that pays tribute to the sun for another day and marks the start of night. Adorned in traditional garments, Mayan warriors arrive at the resort by canoe through Mayakoba’s mangrove-lined waterways, or arrive in the lobby to escort awaiting guests to HAAB’s intimate forest garden, led by the light of burning torches and the sound of beating drums. The warriors ignite HAAB’s four fire pits, signifying the cardinal points of north, south, east and west, and pray for the next day. Throughout the dinner, they tell stories about Mayan history and culture.

[Photography: HAAB restaurant at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Mexico]

HAAB’s cuisine includes warm sopes – a Mexican appetizer of fried corn dough with fresh vegetables and slow cooked meat – served family-style. Guests are also served a traditional drink flavored with xtabentum, a flower with origins tracing back to ancient Mayan time, served in a jicara, a small, artfully decorated wooden jar made from the fruit of the calabash tree. Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients such as lime, orange, hibiscus flower and lemongrass are also available, alongside signature cocktails infused with local Mayan liqueurs such as huana (rum with guanabana fruit), XTA (rum with aniseed) and kalani (coconut liqueur).

[Photography: HAAB restaurant at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Mexico]

This articled was published in HotelsMag by Brittany Farb on 14th March 2016, under the title “What’s Hot: Interactive Mayan dining experience”

Posted 435 weeks ago

A new food craze sweeping restaurants from London to California serves food only in bowls. Bowl food just “tastes better” says the fans. Could there be method in this madness?

“I’ve eaten the same meal on a plate,” New Yorker Lily Kunin told the NY Post recently. “It just wasn’t that good.” Others too have claimed that superfood salads and healthy meals served in bowls simply “taste better”.

It’s an assertion which sounds nonsensical to many – but there could be some truth to it. It’s all to do with how a variety of sensory stimuli can impact our perception of flavour and even our how full we feel after a meal.

The power of the colour and texture of food to influence taste has been well-documented – as has the importance of the type of utensils used and the materials they are made from.

[Photography: The weight and shape of the crockery and cutlery we use can have a major effect on taste - Credit: iStock]

The colour red, for instance, can make sweets with exactly the same sugar content taste sweeter than their non-red counterparts. And one peer-reviewed study, carried out in a “realistic dining environment,” explored the fact that heavier cutlery seemed to increase people’s perceptions of how valuable a meal is. But the results of such experiments are sometimes quite varied – another found that yoghurt tasted “denser and more expensive” when eaten with a light plastic spoon.

When it comes to crockery, all kinds of factors can come into play, says Charles Spence, an expert in the psychology of taste at the University of Oxford.

“I certainly believe that the plateware we use to eat from plays a role in what things tastes like,” he says. “Everything from the texture, the temperature or the feel or the plateware or bowl can fit into this.”

For one thing, if bowl foodies are holding the bowl in their hands while eating, increasing the vessel’s weight could impact their sense of satisfaction with the meal, even making the food taste “more rich or intense”.

“There will be this more general effect that if you’re holding a bowl that’s warm, you’ll perceive other people around you as warmer,” says Spence. “You might be willing to pay more as a result.”

[Photography: Filling a bowl full of food may make us feel fuller and more satisfied - Credit: iStock]

Spence carried out experiments with subjects to find out whether the size of the rim on a plate will impact their perception of how much food is there. Portions of the same size seemed smaller to diners when the size of the plate was increased.

“You could put it the other way and say a bowl without a rim will more often be filled right to the edge, giving the perception of there being more,” he suggests.

It’s certainly true that restaurants have been experimenting with an unusual variety of plateware in recent years in an effort to more deeply engage the senses of their customers. It’s now common to have dishes served on chopping boards or slate – and now and again you might even have a meal presented to you on something as odd as a house brick.

“Bowl food”, says Spence, could be a reaction to the weirdness of these trends – but also an acknowledgement that plateware does matter and that some foods really do benefit from being served in a particular way.

The research and anecdotal reports all point to a common idea, though. These days, it’s not so much about what you eat – but how you eat it.

This article was published by Chris Baraniuk on 26th February 2016 in BBC Future, under the title “ Why ‘bowl food’ might be tricking your brain"

All pictures credit: iStock

Posted 436 weeks ago

[Photography: Authentic American cuisine, in Paris: At the Paris Hilton’s Le Western, a guest selects a cut of beef and brands it with an iron pulled from hot coals nearby. via]

Locally sourced food is all the rage: A hotel restaurant touting its “farm-to-table” cred might feature greens harvested from its own garden or beef that until recently was grazing in the vicinity.

That wasn’t always the case. The September 1969 issue of Service World International, the predecessor publication of HOTELS magazine, cited increasing numbers of travelers who demanded not only a unique meal but the culinary comforts of home, as well. That meant hoteliers stocked Japanese beer, French paté—and plenty of Coca-Cola.

“If we can’t get the produce we want locally, and we feel it’s important to include the item on the menu, then we import,” said Maurice Reymond, then director of food and beverage at Le Western, a restaurant at the Paris Hilton where staff dressed in Wild West-period attire. American influence extended elsewhere, as well.

“Many well-known international restaurants are now serving American foods,” said Nick Bravos, director of food and beverage operations for Holiday Inns. “International travelers, as well as local customers, demand it.”

Added InterContinental’s Peter Balas: “After all, Indian water buffalo is not the same as prime beef.” It’s not—but nowadays, somewhere, it’s on a local menu, and tourists are eating it up.

This article was published by Barbara Bohn in HotelsMagazine on 11th February 2016, under the title: “#TBT: Before ‘hyper-local,’ it was 'international'”

Posted 437 weeks ago
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