by Jason Ford
Ford on Food
Throughout my career as a chef, I’ve noticed an increase in the amount and types of customer dietary requirements.
Once the bane of a chef’s existence, customers with special dining needs have developed into quite a lucrative niche market for the restaurant industry.
Many food businesses are now specifically catering for this category of customer.
There many reasons why a person would have specific food requirements – severe allergies, food intolerances, cultural norms, religious beliefs, lifestyle choices and ethical principles.
One of the most diverse customer dietary requirements encountered by a chef is the countless variations of vegetarianism.
Here are some of the more common vegetarian diets:
- Vegan: No meat, fish, poultry or any other food product derived from animals, such as milk and eggs.
- Raw-vegetarian: Basically a vegan who only eats raw or slightly warmed vegetable matter. The belief is that cooking destroys valuable enzymes and nutrients.
- Fruitarian: A person who only eats fruits, nuts, seeds and other plant product that can be harvested without destroying the plant itself.
- Ovo-vegetarian: is a vegetarian who eats eggs but not dairy.
- Ovo-lacto-vegetarian: This is a vegetarian that also eats dairy and eggs, but they may not eat cheese, because animal rennet may be used to culture the cheese. This is actually one of the most common vegetarian diets.
- Lacto-vegetarian: Will eat dairy, but no eggs.
From experience, I’d also add Confused-vegetarian to this list – a customer who hasn’t done their research and is eating animal product half the time without realising it.
Anyway, here’s a great vegetarian recipe:
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Grilled Pumpkin and Mushroom Salad
- 500g pumpkin, cut into 1cm thick wedges
- 3 flat mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- salt & freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 80g baby spinach leaves
- crusty bread, to serve
- Blanch pumpkin slices in simmering water until almost cooked, but still firm
- Place pumpkins and mushrooms in a shallow dish
- Combine half the olive oil, brown sugar, cumin and salt in a bowl and mix to combine for marinade
- Toss the marinade over the mushrooms; cover and set aside 5 minutes
- Combine the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well to combine for dressing
- Preheat a barbeque plate on a medium-high heat
- Add the mushrooms and cook, tossing frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the pumpkin and cook 2-3 minutes each side.
- Arrange the spinach, mushrooms and pumpkin onto serving plate; drizzle dressing; serve with bread.
Serves approximately 2 people.