Eat­ing lo­cal the healthy way

Chef Wan goes or­ganic and shows that eat­ing healthy can still be de­li­cious.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TASTE - By Sharmila Nair star2@ thes­tar. com. my Pho­tos Ph by ONG SOON HIN

TH HE last few years have been pretty hec­tich for Datuk Redzuawan Ism mail, bet­ter known as Chef Wan. He e trav­elled the world pro­mot­ing his s work, spear­headed new projec cts at home and crafted ideas for his s up­com­ing tele­vi­sion show.

ButB that is not all. Chef Wan also did d some­thing else dur­ing that busy per riod – he put on a lot of weight.

“I couldn’t even spruce up my gar rden at home with­out break­ing in nto buck­ets of sweat,” he laments.l

As much as he wants to blame his er­ratic sched­ule for his weight woes, Chef Wan knows that the onus is on him to care for his well- be­ing.

Be­sides, the pop­u­lar chef and cook show host doesn’t have to look far for a re­minder to eat bet­ter.

“My late father was di­a­betic and lost a leg due to the dis­ease.e He then had a stroke an nd passed away in 2012. I do on’t want to suf­fer the sam me fate as him,” he says.

ChefC Wan knows that he has s to get his act sorted and thu us he has be­gun his jour­ney y to bet­ter health from wh here he is the most com­for rtable – the kitchen.

SoS does that mean no moremo san­tan – which has about 35 calo­ries in a ta­ble­spoon ( 15g) – in ren­dang, nasi lemak,

sweet desserts and kuih for Chef Wan?

Ac­cord­ing to him, that is a big, fat yes.

That is quite rich, given that Chef Wan made his name, and wealth, mak­ing and pro­mot­ing ex­actly those mouth- wa­ter­ing and fat­ten­ing food items on his tele­vi­sion se­ries and cook­books all th­ese years.

“I know that those are the types of food that I cre­ated and pro­moted. But I have got­ten older, and I have to start think­ing about my health. I have come to that age. As a chef, I un­der­stand my re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­mote healthy eat­ing habits, and it starts with me.”

Chef Wan also calls out on folks who dis­miss healthy eat­ing sim­ply be­cause it is pricier.

“Don’t be penny wise and pound fool­ish. Un­less you have a gar­den at home that grows all the veg­eta­bles you want, or a farmf thath givesi you fresh milk ev­ery morn­ing, you can­not es­cape hav­ing to spend a bit more to eat healthy nowa­days.”

“It is bet­ter to pay now for your health, than later ( for

your med­i­cal bills) when you are bed- rid­den and feel­ing aw­ful. Be wise with your eat­ing habits, it will help pro­long your life.”

Chef Wan says that while one can con­trol what goes into their food at home, the same dis­ci­pline some­times can­not be main­tained out­side. He says that we are sur­rounded by calo­rie- laden, sweet, oily and un­healthy food all the time.

“Even when you tell the waiters that you want your drinks less sweet or your food less oily, they still some­how come out sweet and oily. You can­not al­ways dic­tate how the cook pre­pares your food and what goes into it,” he says.

“I am not say­ing that you should to­tally cut out lo­cal fare. But it is im­por­tant that if you de­cide to eat healthy, there are places for you to do so,” he ex­plains.

So when BMS Or­gan­ics came knock­ing with a new col­lab­o­ra­tion, Chef Wan knew that it was an op­por­tu­nity not to be missed. This was his chance to show con­sumers that food, even lo­cal favourites like nasi lemak and curry laksa can be pre­pared the healthy way and be eas­ily avail­able.

BMS Or­gan­ics is a lead­ing or­ganic health food pro­po­nent and sup­plier with 43 out­lets around the coun­try. Nine­teen of th­ese out­lets are equipped with ad­join­ing cafes that serve food made in a healthy man­ner.

With Chef Wan on board, healthy be­comes de­li­cious as well. The com­pany ap­proached the chef to col­lab­o­rate with their kitchen to cre­ate dishes that would be both tasty and ben­e­fi­cial.

“Healthy food has a neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion; the per­cep­tion is that it can never taste as good as ‘ nor­mal’ food. My hon­est be­lief is that it all de­pends on how you pre­pare the food. Of course it is go­ing to taste dif­fer­ent but it def­i­nitely is the health­ier op­tion,” says Chef Wan.

He gives a healthy twist to three lo­cal favourites on BMS Or­gan­ics’ menu by sub­sti­tut­ing some of the orig­i­nal in­gre­di­ents with or­ganic prod­ucts.

“I use or­gan-

chef Wan is work­ing on cre­at­ing more healthy dishes in the fu­ture and is al­ready prac­tis­ing this new ide­ol­ogy in his daily life.

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