Erwan Heussaff: Healthy Eating Advocate
He first broke into the local cuisine scene as a blogger, helping other people eat fit by example. The former heavyweight was able to lose poundage equivalent to one person via a conscious choice to live a healthier lifestyle, and shares several exemplary low-calorie recipes via his website The Fat Kid
Inside. He has since moved on into establishing restaurant concepts that have made Manila foodies sit up and take notice.
F&B World was able to catch up with the celebrity (who, at the time sported facial fuzz in support for Movember, a movement that highlights the need for men’s health awareness) at Hatch 22. “I left my corporate job and incorporated Fat
Kid Inside, then I started working on restaurants, both on investment and consultancy sides. Currently, I have Hatch 22, Niner Ichi Nana and Hungry Hound, and adding another concept this year.” Erwan focuses on his role of concept development, relaying with the kitchen and bar, and putting it together. SHAKING IT UP He says that his concepts are founded on the need to shake things up a little. “I’ve always been waiting for the right time to go into them. I never really saw the opportunity until May last year, when I started talking to different groups, and we realized that the market wanted younger blood to come in and change some things.”
He adds that instead of being market-driven, they are there to create a need. “It is more on understanding where the market is going in terms of food and drinks, where it has to go and how to bring it there. I think it should go to a place where you don’t necessarily always have to cater to the market.” He compares it to the American and European environment, where more chefs and restaurant owners open concepts that don’t necessarily answer any demands. “They do it because of passion. People need to say, ‘wow, I never needed this, now I do!’ That is how it is with most marketing mixes.”
He also says that he puts his personal input on menu items. “Here in Hatch 22, we do some things like tapa and corned beef in the all-day breakfast menu—not because we know people will buy it, but because I personally have it for my breakfast. And we do it our way—we have a lot of people say ‘it’s not how it’s supposed to be cooked.' Well, it’s the way we cook it,” he quips. Case in point: The corned beef is crisped, and served with crispy egg and crispy rice; and they have comments about the Sauceless Salpicao served at Hungry Hound.
He is quick to note that his concepts are not “experimentalist.” “We don’t mess around with different chemicals and stay on classical cooking techniques. I would never serve something I don’t like. At Niner Ichi Nana for example, I am very particular with keeping proper proportions with classic drinks and reading about our grandfathers’ cocktail mixes and that is what we use. We have a lot of people coming in from drinking cocktails on cruise ships and hotels and they think that Four Seasons Juice is an ingredient. We are trying to change that,” he smiles. FITTING INPUTS Of course, one cannot label something as Erwan’s without expecting a health angle somewhere. He recounts when Hungry Hound first opened customers expected salad offerings. “Just because I do one thing on my blog, it doesn’t mean it will translate to the concept. I also indulge from time to time, and I drink a lot—that’s why we opened a bar.” He does note that they always try to have healthy options on the menu. “This year, we will open two concepts, though, that would be very health conscious.”
While salads are not all that is served in his current concepts, he adds, “each brand has an option. There’s always something offered for different diets. Eventually we will serve breakfast juices and salads and sandwiches to go at Hatch. I always make sure that each restaurant opened is somewhere that I would want to go and eat whether it's my cheat day or not, whether I feel like indulging or not… and when we say that something is healthy, then it truly is something healthy. ”
To illustrate his idea of shaking things up, he shares, “People say, ‘ok, what concept will be most popular with the Filipinos and foreigners?’ If you keep doing that—you will stay in one place. It is basically answering just what people want and what...
Fried Chicken Asian Salad