On My Mind - SPA CUISINE
A specific set of cooking traditions and practices, often associated with a specific culture. It is often named after the region or place where its underlining culture is present. A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade.
I don't know if there is an "official" definition of spa cuisine. I think of it as low calorie, low fat, highly flavored, densely nutritious, minimally processed and thoughtfully sourced food with no artificial flavors or preservatives.
The largest variety of spa cuisine I've had has been at destination spas such as Rancho La Puerta, Canyon Ranch and Mii Amo. After a number of days eating their spa cuisine (and exercising), I felt lighter and significantly more energetic.
I have rarely seen spa cuisine offered in day spas. The only one I remember eating at is at the Thermae Bath Spa in Bath, England.
Occasionally, I find spa cuisine in hotel and resort spas such as the spa cafés at the Grove Park Inn in North Carolina, the Cranwell Resort in Massachusetts and Spa Palazzo at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida.
Spa cuisine is an offering I believe most spas - destination, resort, hotel and day - should have as a service to their guests, whether they have in-spa kitchens or order from local healthy food restaurants.
Sofitel Luxury Hotels is taking a leadership position in bringing healthy cuisine to their guests - all their guests, not only those at their spas.
Patrick Jarno, executive chef of Sofitel Diététique in Quiberon, part of the European wellness brand Thalassa Sea & Spa, has become known for merging the art of gastronomy with an expertise in wellness cuisine. Chef Jarno invents menu items using fresh, whole ingredients, limiting fat, flour, cream and most starches. Each plate in his restaurants is created to delight the senses of his guests, beginning with the sight and scent before savoring the taste. He balances his menu choices on three main attributes: beauty, taste and balance.
Chef Jarno is the author of a number of healthy cuisine cookbooks including La Nouvelle cuisine de la forme à Quiberon
In January 2011, Chef Jarno trained the executive chefs from six participating Sofitel properties in North America on the Thalassa concept at Sofitel Philadelphia. The participating chefs were:
Sofitel’s new low-calorie gastronomy program highlights fresh, whole ingredients, tasteful and low-calorie cuisine. While the Thalassa menu items complement weight management, the overall goal is a feeling of well-being - both physically and mentally - achieved through carefully balanced nutrition.
I find it fascinating that only one property has a spa - LeSpa at Sofitel Los Angeles. I love that the other Sofitel properties want to offer this healthy "gift" to their guests as well.
I was privileged to sample the Sofitel Philadelphia's ‘De-Light’ menu in January at the end of the chef's educational cooking seminar and prior to the program's official launch. Here is the Liberté Thalassa menu from Executive Chef Kevin Levitt:
Liberté Thalassa Menu
Endive with Baby Shrimp
Smoked Salmon and Palm Hearts
Oyster Shots, Salmon Caviar
Zucchini Summer Roll
Lobster Remoulade, Balsamic Vinaigrette
Sea Salt Braised Wild Sea Bass, Tomato & Fennel Confit
Pineapple "En Surprise"
We started with drinks - carrot juice and virgin Bloody Marys. The carrot juice was embellished with a paper thin but extremely flavorful beet root crisp. I loved it! Later in the meal, I was introduced to Jicama crisps, pear crisps and orange crisps. They were all terrific and easy to make according to Chef Wilda. You make paper thin slices of the fruit or vegetable with a mandolin or deli cutter, spread them on a baking sheet, brush them with a simple syrup made from water and Splenda and bake them at a low temperature for a long time.
My only regret was that I forgot to bring my camera. Each plate was beautiful. I was able to speak with all the chefs while we dined. Chef Haupt explained how each Amuse Bouche was made. Chef Levitt demonstrated how he plated the appetizer. I sat next to the nutritionist at Quiberon for most of the meal, and we discussed many aspects of the nutrition offered by the menu. I have to say the meal was absolutely fantastic! And under 500 calories.
Each chef is creating a unique De-Light menu for his individual property. The menus will offer guests options for a decadent and tasteful three-course meal with less than 500 calories. The innovative program will be rolled out at six properties throughout North America during "De-Light Weeks," week-long previews featuring stand-alone Thalassa-based menus, beginning at Sofitel New York in February 2011 followed by Sofitel properties in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Los Angeles and ending with Montreal in March. Following the previews, Thalassa-based appetizers, entrees, desserts and beverages will be permanently introduced to the menus at each of the six properties and will be available permanently at the hotel restaurants and bars throughout the year.
I hope this is just the beginning of a healthy cuisine trend in more hotels and resorts!
That's what I have to say about Spa Cuisine for now. Thanks for "listening." I am interested in what you have to say about it. Share it with me at jar@DiscoverSpas.com.
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