Relaxed focus in vegan cafe
Chef Damian Oehlrich’s mantra is: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
It’s a famous quote from ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, and Damian says it creates the basis of his daily life.
The quote is written across the back wall of Oehlrich’s just weeks old vegan eatery The Greenhouse Aotearoa in Taupo Quay.
Walking through front doors into the soothing ambience of this new eating house immediately allays stress.
His plant-based menu offers a delectable vegetarian feast which would even tempt the most ardent dairy and meat lover.
His duck-egg blue platters even shaped like a duck egg carefully piled with delicious veg, nuts, lentils and pulses look beautiful and taste incredible.
While quiet music plays in the background, customers savour their food, relax, gaze through the wall of front floor-toceiling windows which are also bi-fold doors.
There’s no rustling of newspapers or magazines because there aren’t any.
It’s very Zen and extremely peaceful.
Oehlrich is passionate about encouraging good eating, he said.
Even his coffee brought in from the Hawke’s Bay is a special roast. He offers almond milk and soy milk but if you want dairy milk then it will cost you 50 cent extra, he said.
There is no gluten in any products here, he said.
Though Oehlrich has family in Whanganui, his early life was spent in Malborough.
His career to date has focused mostly on fine dining and he described himself as a New Zealand’s only yoga chef.
“And I’m the only chef in the country who cooks for yoga retreats.”
He has designed and made most of the furniture in his vegan cafe.
Long tables of hewn macrocarpa planks from a farm near Kai iwi with round padded cushioned seats are the main feature.
Even the tops of the seats lift up for customers to stow their bags rather than leaving anything on the floor.
He wants people to come in and be amazed to enjoy good-tasting food that won’t leave you bloated and uncomfortable.
“Vegetables are far from boring. It’s not like the old days where vegetables were boiled into grey mush,”he said.
This week he is introducing his Spring Fling dinner at night.
Together with his main menu, he’s introducing a menu of delectable tapas which means a diner can order in five or more small plates of food and share a feast with their friends.
The daily menu features five savoury dishes, five sweet dishes, five juices and five smoothies and will change regularly, probably daily, he said.
The day and night menus will be all absolutely fresh superfoods.
There’s already a good food scene in Whanganui, he said.
Whanganui is fast becoming a great arts, music and food town.
The Greenhouse Aotearoa is all about staying healthy.
“It’s all about nurturing yourself in the right wayin every way.”
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Passionate chef Damian Oehlrich has produced a plantbased menu at his new eatery.