Are millennials changing the way we eat out? – Deccan Herald

Restaurant News

Millennials are spoilt for choice when it comes to tantalising their taste buds. But their quest for something better (read healthier) has egged entrepreneurs on to give a wellness twist to their culinary offerings.

No longer only about low-fat or high-carb, millennials are today talking about dining out guilt free. This means consuming food that is natural, organic, locally sourced and sometimes even vegan and gluten-free. Give this much-maligned generation credit where it is due — this healthy food trend too stems out of their refusal to compromise, be it about marriage or pigging out. 

Restaurateurs are fast catching on — after all, clean eating is no longer only on paper. In fact, healthy eating is driving the restaurant industry globally too. Examples abound — from Copenhagen’s renowned ‘Noma’ that is now famously sourcing from its backyard forests and gardens to ‘Filth’ in London that serves vegan burgers. The focus thus has shifted from fancy plating to simple logic — eat what nature provides. Eat simple, make food economical and go for the local. Here’s a peek into how some local entrepreneurs are responding to this global trend. 

Ragi pizza with watermelon chutney please!

“Simple changes like whole grains instead of refined, using Himalayan pink salt instead of regular iodised salt, cutting down on sugar if not eliminating it — there’s lots one can do. We offer pizzas made with Ragi to eliminate gluten, risotto made of millets and lentils and soups loaded with herbs and greens. We also offer varieties like watermelon chutney and hummus made with beetroot and spinach,” explains Pallavi Gupta, founder, Sante Spa
Cuisine, Indiranagar, Bangalore. “Our menu is very carefully drawn from the philosophies of spa cuisine.”

Spa cuisine stresses on the use of natural ingredients free from refining and processing, seasonal produce, multi-coloured foods and cooking techniques that employ spices. It demands a thorough knowledge of food balance and nutrition, says Pallavi. “We are constantly trying to break myths and notions around healthy eating. Everyone likes to go out and eat but why not make that experience guilt free?” The aim, she adds, is not to eliminate foods like cheese and breads that make us drool but replace them with healthier options such as wholegrain breads and cashew cheese. 

Once bitten, always shy

Entrepreneur Nidhi Nahata decided to tread on the wellness path only after she stared danger in the face. “If someone had told me three years ago that I would be running a whole food plant-based restaurant cafe, I would have laughed at the very idea. My clean eating journey began after I took part in a 21-day retreat to treat my nagging health issues. The way in which I recovered changed my perspective towards clean and natural
eating. I understood the beneficial effects of a whole food plant-based diet and this has the backing of science,” says Nidhi. Today, she is the proud owner of Justbe Cafe in Sadashivanagar that offers everything trendy and healthy — from quinoa biryani to oats beetroot falafel and spiced carrot soup for the discerning diner. 

“When I began eating clean, I insisted my family members follow it too. Our food habits cured my son’s chronic asthma and my husband’s gastro-intestinal issues. However, whenever we felt like eating out, we never could find a healthy option. This made me start my own,” she says. 

From weighing 108 kg to becoming a fitness guru

“This is a story of a little obese boy who literally grew up on junk food and aerated beverages. Before I knew it, I was hitting 108 kg with 45 per cent body fat. But, I wanted to be a pilot and so began my journey. Twelve years down the road, I am not a pilot but a restaurateur,” laughs Nikhil Hegde, founder of Smally’s Resto Cafe, a popular outlet with branches in several areas of Bangalore, including Church Street and Indiranagar. 

Nikhil says it is a myth that healthy eating is expensive. “We take pride in our innovative offerings that are pocket-friendly — be it our whole-wheat pita or our ‘grilled gym steak’ that focuses on providing energy and nutrition to gym freaks,” he says. At present, the entrepreneur is working on creating a comprehensive meal plans and is amazed by the response he is getting from hungry Bangaloreans. 

Will clean eating make a dent in your wallet? 

Clean eating is all fine and pious but how feasible is it? The key to good, healthy living is not ordering a quinoa biryani once but to follow a lifestyle that accommodates holistic wellness. The good news is, it need not be expensive. You need not always go in search of kiwi fruits and avocados to eat healthy. “Healthy ingredients are sitting right there in your kitchen. Buy vegetables fresh from a farmer’s market, switch to whole-grains, grow green on your kitchen sill…there are hundred cheap ways to eat clean,” says dietitian Nmami Agarwal, CEO and Founder, Nmami Life.

And eating clean is not always about what you are eating but also how you are eating. “There are some basic rules for conscious or mindful eating, like- eating without the distraction of
mobile phones, television or laptop, eating slowly and chewing properly, and most importantly, appreciating the food you are having,” says Nmami. Natasha Celmi, a culinary specialist and food entrepreneur has a slightly different take. “You have a choice; you decide if you want to eat processed cheese or artisanal. Yes, artisanal cheese is a bit more expensive but way healthier.” An average urban millennial is engrossed for 8-9 hours in a sitting job. So, healthy eating for them becomes a mandate instead of a priority. The shift, though in its nascent stages, is making serious progress. “People are now aware of the benefits of products such as cold-pressed oils and natural salts. At home too, we are taking steps to reduce our use of plastic and encourage our children to stay away from sugary snacks,” says Pallavi. 

The economics of healthy dine-outs

Being a healthy food entrepreneur not only involves understanding lifestyle and environment needs but also spreading awareness about them, says Pallavi.

Nikhil believes there is no danger of healthy restaurants becoming fly-by-night operators because “clean eating is the way to go and there is huge potential in a market like Bangalore with more than 4,000 restaurants and less than one percent of them being healthy food joints. 

“I think setting an example to people, throwing out your transformation story and then selling the same food that you ate is always a plus point and that’s precisely what I have done.” He adds being pro-active on social media apps like Instagram works well for health food entrepreneurs. All of them feel while social media brings awareness and revenues, the real challenge lies in the constant search for new recipes and hidden ingredients. 

Source: Thanks