On a health quest

on the telly

On a health quest

He’s a celebrity chef. He has headlined many culinary shows, including Oliver’s Twist, Jamie’s Kitchen, Jamie at Home, and more. His love for food can be found filling the pages of many bestselling culinary books.

His restaurants allow people to relish classic British cuisine, Italian fare and even something as simple as diner-style burgers. But, what he is mostly known for these days is his ‘health quest’. Be it his obesity strategy or his nutritious recipes, all his energy seems to be devoted towards making people healthier. His latest obsession, superfoods (something that caught the food industry by storm in the recent times), is all about picking ingredients that pack the most punch in terms of nutrition.

In his latest show, Jamie’s Super Food, this Emmy award-winning chef embarks on a journey that is equal parts travelling and food, to find out where people live the longest, healthiest, and their diet secrets. In an exclusive conversation with Deccan Herald, Jamie talks about his culinary journey, food trends and more.

‘Jamie’s Super Food’ for food inspiration...

Jamie’s Super Food is in a very simple, clean format. We wanted to mix it with travelling around to parts of the world, where people live the longest, how they live and what they eat, and looking at some of the statistics of how much more or less food they eat than us back home. So, we have that kind of travel documentary-style filming, and then the actual cooking show was back in the UK in a very simple kitchen, focusing on how to cook it. It’s very fast-paced, and hopefully, it’s nice and clear for people to learn. We did eight shows with five recipes, about a third in my book, Everyday Super Food, is in this TV series. Probably, about half of the recipes will be out there to be watched, and the other half in the book, wanting to be loved.

The obsession with superfoods...

Superfood, to me, is not a single ingredient; it’s a cluster. It’s how you put things together. And if you flick through the book, what you’ll notice is that there’s plenty of colour. Superfood means colourful, energetic food that’s going to be a positive thing for your body. The important thing is that there is no one superfood ingredient. And the point of this book was to prove that. You don’t have to just buy quinoa or goji berries to have superfood. Superfood is around us all the time, but it’s really how you put the dishes together. As long as you have that lovely balance of healthy carbs, loads of veggies, possibly fruit and herbs, it will be fantastic.

The importance of trends in the world of food...

I think trends are important because even superfood has been a trend. It is quite hard to get people to talk about new food, and so, having a trend is important to get things moving forward. And then, what normally happens is that things settle down and become more accessible. I am excited about everything to do with spices right now. They have got a big part to play in the next four to five years.

Taste & healthy food...

When you think of healthy food, everyone thinks it’s boring. But if you flick through my book, nothing looks boring; it all looks exciting. At its core, superfood is about eating more fruit and vegetables in really exciting ways. We are using curries from different parts of Asia, including India; we’re using beautiful soups from Costa Rica, apart from other Peruvian dishes. We are using the excitement and deliciousness of many cultures around the world, including the countries of Europe, to celebrate more of vegetables, fruits, salads and herbs, and less of highly processed meat. Also, I believe spices are the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, by weight; it makes a boring piece of chicken or fish or a piece of vegetable interesting. It’s just an amazing opportunity to make food tasty.

Some cooking tips that can work magic in the kitchen...

Use colour as your best friend. Colour is a signal of health-giving properties, and, whether it’s in the UK or India, getting lots of good fruits, vegetables and proteins into our bodies is a really important thing.

On technology and food...

I think the world’s changed drastically. What you can buy in the supermarkets now is so different from 10 or even 15 years ago. So, the concept of nutrition is definitely a big deal, and people want to eat tasty food, but they don’t particularly want to die young; they want to indulge in food that’s good for them. What the global public have been asking for is speed, which translated to fast cooking that’s fresh. Also, budget matters too. Can you eat good food with less money? What is healthy? Does it have to be boring? That’s the kind of vibe here.

The path ahead...

In the next 12 months, I’m going to be following the journey of spices, which will probably take me through most of Asia, China, Peru, India and Sri Lanka. We will be filming and researching for recipes.

Diversity, thy name is India...

I think India is a fascinating country to observe and study at the moment: such a lot of growth, opportunity, a huge population, and many of the different areas that make your country, which is many, many countries. It is so diverse. There are so many superfoods around India, and there are so many Indian dishes that, because they’re mainly vegetarian and they use many herbs, spices and simple preparation, are very healthy.

Jamie’s Super Food airs Monday to Friday at 1 pm on TLC.

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