Dietary Requirements or Flavour? You Can Have Both!

In today’s commercial kitchens, menus that were once standardised now feature an abundance of vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free alternatives. What does this mean for the next generation of chefs?

Whether cooking for a local restaurant or large corporation, a chefs’ ultimate goal is to meet the needs of their guests and patrons. Dietary requirements are an ideal example of this in force. According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), food allergies occur in 10% of infants, 4-8% of children and approximately 2% of Australian adults. However, it is not only medically diagnosed allergies and intolerance’s that change food consumption.

Despite only 1-2% of Australians suffering from coeliac disease, 1 in 10 Australians are avoiding gluten products! This is reflective of broader national trends and motivations, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting that 7% (1.6 million) Australians avoid particular foods for cultural, religious or ethical reasons. It has consequently never been more important for chefs to understand food allergies, intolerance’s and cultural-based needs!

Balancing Dietary Requirements and Taste

There is often a misunderstood notion that dietary restricted options have reduced taste. However, this is simply not the case.

“All of the apprentices were a little apprehensive at first, but once they started completing the food, they understood that dietary dishes can taste great!”

Chris, Commercial Cookery Trainer

CTA’s Commercial Cookery Trainer and professional chef Chris Cave knows too well that exceptional food can be created from a diverse range of ingredients and techniques. Applying this methodology, he lists three core steps to creating delectable meals that address core dietary requirements, whilst still retaining a dish’s integrity.

  1. Know the “Why”

As mentioned, dietary requirements are rooted in a range of reasons, from intolerance’s through to ethical reasoning. Taking these different motives into account provides commercial chefs with a well-rounded view of their dishes and customers. As a result, these chefs can generate detailed menus that match their patrons’ requirements.   

2. Source Fresh Ingredients

A truly appetising meal is built upon a combination of fresh and hearty ingredients. The same can be said for dishes with dietary requirements. Dietary requirements are not a reason to skip corners, they are a reason to go beyond previously defined boundaries and start getting creative with spices and various flavours.  

3. Substitute! Substitute! Substitute!

Fresh ingredients are important, but what should these ingredients be? Chris says that it’s all about researching effective substitutes. Through taking a multi-faceted and open-minded approach, dishes with dietary requirements can be tailored to the taste-pallets of customers and the chefs’ desired flavour outcomes. One specific example is designing food for Vegan consumption. These dishes require a strong knowledge of ingredients and their impact within dishes, which Chris helps deepen through examining Indian cuisine and more.

Using substitutes like cauliflower for rice, zucchini for pasta or almond milk for cow’s milk can provide wonderful eating experiences that are both a surprise and inspirational!

Dietary requirements do not equate to tasteless food. They simply require a creative chef, with a passion for food, who is not afraid to push the current boundaries when it comes to flavours, spices and fresh ingredients.

We are proud to see our Apprentices genuinely adapt meals for the needs of their patrons. Learn more about our Commercial Cookery course here.