If I ask someone who had never met me before what I do as a profession, they probably wouldn’t guess, going by my physique, that I am a chef!
Chefs are frequently characterised as being rotund and portly, after all, working in an environment in which they are constantly surrounded by food presents all sorts of temptations. What’s that saying? – ‘never trust a skinny chef’. But there’s one thing that never leaves the menu at La Bécasse: and that’s healthy eating. Traditionally a lot of butter and fat is used in cooking, sauces are either very reduced heavy stocks or the sauces are finished with cream or butter and desserts contain a huge amount of sugar and cream. The style of food I serve at La Bécasse is a lighter, fresher interpretation of classics.
I’ve always eaten healthily and I pride myself on being in great shape. I’ve never been a fan of junk food or fast food. Not because I’m a food snob – I just don’t want to put food like that in my body. I’d rather eat a banana than a chocolate bar and I’d rather drink a smoothie or fruit juice than a fizzy drink. Eating healthily doesn’t make you strange or weird; for me, it makes perfect sense.
I never think of myself as being on a diet. I just eat sensibly, I watch what I eat. Eating in moderation is the key. I think it’s important that people treat their body like a machine. It needs to be constantly re-fuelled with the correct fuels and it needs to be looked after. A lot of people take supplements; there’s a supplement for this and a supplement for that, a vitamin for this and a pill for that. But if you have a healthy balanced diet, which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and avoids excessive fats and sugars, there’s really no need.
You can eat proper food and eat well. A good breakfast doesn’t have to consist of fried eggs and fried bread.
I’m not just disciplined in terms of what I eat. I also make sure I drink plenty of water. It amazes me that people don’t take any notice of that requirement. People need to drink plenty of water so that they can function, especially when the weather is hot. If you take in too little fluid, you’ll start to dehydrate, your brain won’t function properly and you’ll start to feel fatigued.
Keeping healthy is important to me. I am fit and that helps when you do a physically demanding job like working as a chef. I box twice a week, go to the gym once a week, play football, tennis, cricket and squash and go running most mornings. But in order to do all of that, I need to stay fit – and that’s why I eat healthily.