Didier Martens: A healthy chef's journey
Since 1994, the Prix du Chef Santé (or Healthy Chef Award) is presented to restaurant industry professionals who have designed a healthy gourmet menu. Launched in 1994 by the Society of chefs, cooks and bakers of Quebec, the purpose of the contest is to merge the mission of nutritionists and the talents of chefs. The objective: combine gourmet cuisine with healthy menus.
Martens' restaurant: La tablée de Didier
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The 2012 winner
In 2012, Didier Martens won the contest with the three menus he submitted. Didier, who is chef at La tablée de Didier restaurant in Val-Bélair, near Quebec City, explains how he conceived his menus:
"I had to use low-fat, protein-rich ingredients, and provide small individual servings. I had to do some research on Canadian food products. This allowed me to create menus that are balanced for the human body, without trans fats."
A singular path
Martens has been a chef since 1976. He opened his own restaurant in October 2011. In 2009, he took a sabbatical leave to travel across Canada, from coast to coast. That's when he explored the culinary diversity of this country and established close contacts with members of the Aboriginal communities. This led him to sample types of meat that seldom make it to our plates such as squirrel, skunk, porcupine and beaver.
On a less daring level, Martens also explored many wild edible plants.
Martens strongly recommends a diet rich in vegetables and fruit: in short, everything that provides the human body with all the vitamins it needs to function and develop in a healthy way.
He also advises Canadian families to pay special attention to the type of oil they choose to cook their food.
"In the kitchen, I often use grape seed oil, which contains vitamins A, C and E, plus iron and calcium. It is a very healthy fat, a little bit like duck fat. This type of oil can reach very high temperatures without burning. Olive oil is good for salad dressings. But it loses its benefits when heated," suggests the winner of the 2012 Chef Santé contest.
Didier Martens' menus at the 2012 Chef Santé awards:
Red beets and Cortland apples salad with its apple cider and walnut vinaigrette
Lamb shank confit with Provençale lentils
Carrot and licorice mousseline
Zucchini and turkey breast gaspacho sprinkled with myrica seeds
Quinoa linguini topped with shrimp and green asparagus
Oven-baked cinnamon pears, yogurt sauce
Atlantic passion tartar with its smoked salmon rose and a dash of grapefruit
Vegetable potée with two sweet pepper coulis
Cantaloupe and chicoutai bavaroise with a honeydew melon julienne