CYNDI O’Meara has helped thousands of Australians change their eating habits through her inspirational books and regular spots on shows such as 9AM, Today Tonight and Fresh.
Now she is tackling the nation’s hospitality industry to change its attitude to food.
The Sunshine Coast nutritionist is an advocate of using natural and organic foods to cook, rather than processed ingredients, as the key to maintaining a well-balanced diet.
She will join some of Australia’s leading chefs at the Hospitality and Gaming Australasia Expo on April 20 for an opportunity she hopes will help shift current food trends in the industry.
“Chefs aren’t chefs anymore. They’re getting lazy,” Ms O’Meara said.
“They add water to a powder and they’ve got their sauce, or they’re using powdered eggs or microwaved potatoes.
“What they don’t realise is that people want to eat old-fashioned food like real apple pie where the pastry is made with just four natural ingredients, not the 40 processed ingredients and chemicals that come in a frozen pastry.
“Many restaurants have the power to do it right, and some are. Customers will keep coming back for more, so I don’t see why more restaurants aren’t adopting real food principles.”
The real food principles Ms O’Meara talks about is using a variety of foods from nature and, where possible, cooking these foods yourself.
“For example, if you buy a chocolate cake from (supermarkets), there’s likely to be added processed ingredients,” she said.
“Whereas if you make a chocolate cake from scratch in the traditional way, you should be able to work with just seven – organic flour, whole milk, free-range eggs, organic cocoa, butter, unprocessed sugar and sea salt.
“We’ve lost the traditional values taught in home-style cooking and replaced them with fast food alternatives that are ultimately costing our nation its health.
“But we’re very fortunate on the Sunshine Coast. We have a great variety of suppliers and restaurants getting it right, such as the Spirit House, Sister Restaurant, Kenilworth Cheeses, Maleny and Cooloola Dairies, Montville Coffee and Eumundi Markets.
“If the public starts asking questions about the food they’re eating, then chefs will start to question what they’re actually serving.”
Making an entire industry change its attitude towards using fresh and natural ingredients may not be easy, especially when there’s a price stigma attached to organic and natural foods, but Ms O’Meara has support from multi-award-winning Sydney chef Justin North.
“The first thing kitchens can do to revitalise their menu is to visit and utilise local markets more. Work with what’s available and in season and this will make your expenses steady and provide you with more opportunities,” Mr North said.
“This will help cut overhead costs and also make your menus more innovative and fresh as you are basing your menus around available food rather than the other way around.”
The 2010 HGA Expo will be held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre on April 19-20.
Visit www.hospitalityexpo.com.au for more info.
Source: Sunshine Coast Daily, 4th April 2010, http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2010/04/04/new-bid-for-old-fashioned-food-options/