Making food responsible again

In our conversation with chef Shivani Sharma, Chef and Founder of Gourmestan and Bliss Bites, we breakdown the rising need for ‘responsible gourmet’ in the Indian dining scenario

Making food responsible again

Before we get into this article, I’d like to go a little back in time. Not too far back, but around 2017-18—when I was still in college—Greta Thunberg was making headlines in every newspaper, raising awareness for climate change. The idea of sustainable dining started gaining momentum around that time, I believe. With the idea of farm-to-fork promoting the use of organic produce while also highlighting the importance of ethical sourcing, sustainable dining was definitely a concept that gained immense popularity in no time. Add to the mix factors like mindful eating, healthy food that in no way compromised on taste and a certain level of transparency between the provider (or the restaurant, rather) and consumer, it soon became a way of life.

In the bustling world of gastronomy, a new star is shining bright — the concept of responsible gourmet. This emerging trend in dining reflects a paradigm shift in consumer preferences, where the allure of gourmet cuisine meets a heightened awareness of health and sustainability. Restaurants around the globe are now not only tempting taste buds but also nurturing bodies and minds with nutritious, ethically sourced ingredients.

To further understand this concept, we reached out to chef Shivani Sharma, founder and chef at renowned restaurants Gourmestan and Bliss Bites (based in Dubai). We jumped right into the conversation, beginning with a curiosity to just understand what drives this concept. 'The rise of responsible gourmet trends can be attributed to a shift in consumer preference for healthier, more sustainable dining options,' she begins. 'Having understood how our food choices affect our health and the environment around us, restaurants are attempting to bridge the gap by offering delicious foods made from healthy ingredients, sourced ethically and sustainably. It’s a reflection of societal changes towards mindful consumption as well as an increased demand for transparency in the food industry,’ she said.

Right from studying the labels of our food products to skimming the menu to look for a dish that gives you the benefit of indulgence and health, I think we can all agree that we are embracing a healthier lifestyle no matter what restaurant we choose to visit. Gone are the days when we’d feast like gluttons on fast food. Today its all about nourishing the mind and body. And this change is reflected in the restaurant scenario as well. Take your pick from an array of salads, wraps, acai bowls, smoothies and what not, restaurants are actively adapting to this shift, by structuring their menus around this need. When we asked chef Shivani how her restaurants cater to this demand, she proudly stated 'to maintain quality standards, we ensure that our dishes satisfy both our criteria of being tasty and healthy'. 'We incorporate locally sourced produce, organic ingredients, and mindful cooking techniques into our offerings. Our menu embraces seasonal produce whenever possible, which enhances the nutritional content of our products, and our team constantly innovates new recipes to cater to the health and taste conscious.'

As we discuss this topic, there is one more thing that we as consumers need to understand. It is that the responsible gourmet movement challenges the conventional perceptions of gourmet cuisine. 'While retaining the luxury of a gourmet experience, the movement also adds new dimensions of health consciousness and sustainability,' Chef Shivani notes. 'Advocating practices such as clean eating, fair sourcing, and environmental stewardship, responsible gourmet cuisine becomes more socially inclusive than ever before. The outcome is foods that spell luxury and indulgence but also do good for the body and the environment.'

Looking ahead, Chef Shivani envisions profound implications for the restaurant industry stemming from this very movement. 'Over time, it is expected that this movement will have far-reaching consequences,' she predicts. 'It will shape the future dining landscape by influencing how restaurants operate in terms of sourcing ingredients and designing menus. By embracing principles of responsible gourmet dining, restaurants can cultivate loyal customer bases, increase sales volumes, and promote mindful eating habits. Ultimately, the goal is to shift perceptions of indulgence towards a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.'

In a world where culinary innovation meets conscious consumption, responsible gourmet dining emerges as a beacon of flavour, health, and sustainability. And after my conversation with chef Shivani Sharma, It is clear that the fusion of gourmet cuisine and responsible dining practices promises a brighter, more nourishing future for food lovers everywhere.

Natasha Kittur

Natasha Kittur

Natasha Kittur is an aspiring writer. Her love for anything with cheese and spice is profound, but a white sauce pasta always tops her list. In her free time you will catch her reading or watching crime books and shows or go on and on about psychological experiments and theories. She aims to write a book in the fictional genre someday.

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