Er­wan Heussaff: Healthy Eat­ing Ad­vo­cate

F&B World - - Special Feature -

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...

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