Riccardo Cortese comes from Maddaloni, Campania, in the South of Italy, the Land of Pizza. He …
What’s insatiable about being in the restaurant business is…
That you work with food and that you are surrounded by food. Everywhere there’s food. Chefs shower me with food. Friends spoil me with food. My Asian family forces me with food. I make a living from food. There’s no escape from food.
Such a gruesome first world problem that one must never, ever take for granted!
As food is so vastly available I have NO self control when it comes to bingeing. I have a personal record of consuming 25 KFC chicken pieces in one seating and I can scoop mayonnaise and eat it like ice cream. I am also not very discerning when it comes to anything that is deep fried, oh lord.
Hence the 4-letter “D” word does not exist in my vocab.
For health reasons and in a lame attempt to limit all that borderless gluttony – I commit to a 50% vegetarian and meatless diet plan once a month. I explored the vegetarian market in the UK as healthy eating is relatively on the global trend. My findings? Vegetarianism or being Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian if you permit yourself with the consumption of dairy products… can be fun!
Vegetables look pretty… and tasty!
Natural and raw ingredients are very colourful – imagine a rainbow of capsicums, aubergine, plant sourced sauces, beetroot, tomatoes, basil leaves – this is a food porn aesthetics dream! Here is a plate I gorged from a healthy buffet at ETHOS consisting of a glorious scotch egg (for those lacto-ovos), humus, sweet potato chips, mint cauliflower, grilled chilli egg plant and guacamole. Screw the Michelins, this is gloriously tasty and filing as HEAVEN.
Vegetables are filling… without the carbs and guilt!
Like me, if you have a metabolism of a cow – rule out rice and pasta because carbs are essentially sugar. Many forms of root based vegetables such as aubergines provide an excellent source of fibre without leaving you with indigestion and an awful dis-humanitarian guilt of slaughter. If those cold leafy salads leave you hungry – replace them with grilled broccoli or cauliflower, they can fill you up so you will not snack later in the day. Should you need one: honey roasted cashews is a hero’s source of energy and is mega addictive.
The delicious options are endless: think sweet and sour carrot tempura, cauliflower cheese bake, creamed spinach, miso eggplants, onion bhajis in chutney, avocado and garlic dips… And these bizarre flour-less cakes are available from hipster cafes. If you are still hungry at this point, you must be kidding me.
Some restaurants do them… very right
In my opinion and to non-vegans, raw foods can be awful – plant based ingredients are mostly uncooked and the end result is often a deconstructed mess. Though there are incredible exceptions – Wild Food Cafe does an excellent pizza which tastes like pizza but looks nothing like pizza. This is the kind of dish that screams WOW and one that you will never forget – because you don’t really know what you have really eaten.
To top it off – there’s very little oil and fat in the vegetarian diet. Unfortunately carbs are present – but essentially your body requires fuel to burn, so be kind. I attempted a protein-only diet once in my early 20s and I ended up with constipation, weight gain and lethargy – hence instead of feeling sexy, literally I felt like a stuffed sausage.
Having said it all, let’s be mystified by the laws of nature: Elephants are vegetarians. Cheetahs are carnivores. Who’s leaner?
Based in Kuala Lumpur and having previously lived and worked across 8 countries, Lyn Siew is the owner of an award winning Contemporary Chinese Hybrid Restaurant, Ruyi & Lyn, and a Western eatery Monte’s by the Red Herring. She is currently incubating a local startup project for culinary students, and building an online platform for the global food community. Relationship status? Married to food and champagne.
Follow her daily eating and drinking adventures on Instagram!