Fairmont Hotel caters to vegans, vegetarians, diabetics and celiacs with new menu
Looking at the speed with which the recent vegan edition of Social Bites sold out got me thinking about how desperate vegans, vegetarians, diabetics and people with celiac disease must be for good dining out options. It was quite timely then that I discovered the Fairmont’s newly launched Lifestyle Cuisine Plus menus.
Health concerns are the driving force behind the Fairmont menu
Traditionally, diners with specific dietary requests have had very limited choice (lucky vegetarians might find two or three options on a menu; vegans and people with celiac disease often find even less), or have to forego flavour in favour of a dish that is nutritionally correct.
In what is, as far as I’m aware, a world first, the Fairmont hotels have collaborated with dieticians and cutting-edge recipe analysis software to establish a range of menus for people with specific diet-dependent conditions. The program launched at the start of this year and comprises menu options for diabetes, DASH and gluten-free, as well as unique dietary preferences including macrobiotic, raw and vegan diets.
Our food system has long been sliding down a slippery slope. To cater to an ever-increasing demand for healthy meals, the Fairmont chain had already instigated a Lifestyle Cuisine menu that catered to the most common dietary requests from health-conscious guests, including low-fat, vegetarian and low-carbohydrate concerns. The Lifestyle Cuisine Plus program takes that a step further. Thanks to the recipe software, detailed nutritional information is available on request; fantastic news for carb-counting diabetics like me.
Poor hard-working chefs
Normally, when a chef is creating a dish, s/he focuses on taste and presentation. I was sure that the introduction of a third element, exact nutrition via the nutritional software, would rub the chefs the wrong way. But Ken Nakano, executive sous-chef at the Fairmont Empress, assured me that this wasn’t the case at all.
Although it took a little while to get their heads around it, the executive chefs quickly found the additional information created a challenge that pushed them to be more creative, with the added benefit that they could confidently back up their health claims with numbers. Gavin Stephenson, executive chef at the Fairmont Olympic in Seattle, took it a step further.
“This is going to turn the phrase ‘never trust a skinny chef’ on its head. Soon it’ll be ‘never trust a fat chef.'”
Top creative, healthy options
Each exec chef at the different Fairmont hotels has their own take on the menu within the set parameters. Three of my favourites were:
Georgian pomegranate poached pear with dehydrated Greek yogurt – Seattle’s Olympic Fairmont
While the title of this dish doesn’t exactly get the salivary juices flowing, the result is a delicious macaron, with just the right amount of chewiness, sandwiching the jelly-like pear.
DASH (heart disease)
Pot au feu of free range chicken – Chateau Whistler
Very rarely do I order chicken on a menu. Rarely is it done well enough, or interesting enough to tempt me. Executive chef Vincent Stufano’s chicken harnessed micro-greens and an aged sherry vinegar to pack the moist chicken breast full of flavour.
Homemade tofu with morel mushrooms, Mongolian truffle sauce and braised daikon – Fairmont Pacific Rim
This dish would tick boxes for DASH, vegan, celiac and diabetic. What really blew me away was the tofu. It reminded me of buffalo mozzarella. It had none of the rubbery quality so often associated with tofu. I could have slurped the stuff from my spoon even without the assorted spices.