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Gauthier Adds Calories To The Menu

Catherine May chats to Michelin-starred Gauthier’s head chef on their latest menu addition

Written by . Published on July 19th 2011.


Gauthier Adds Calories To The Menu

CALORIE counting: it’s droned into us in the media that it’s something we should all be paying more attention to. We’re becoming an obese nation; heart attacks could be back on the rise, along with more Type 2 diabetics than ever…

We’ve all read the headlines. 

Last year, New York was the first American city to implement a law stating that all chain restaurants had to put calorie information on their menus. In fact, it was a visit to New York that was another influencing factor in Gauthier’s decision.

But now one London fine dining restaurant has become the city’s first Michelin-starred eatery to list each dish’s calorie count on its menus. 

Gauthier Soho started the new initiative last month as owner Alexis Gauthier felt he had a moral obligation to give nutritional guidance to his customers. He’d suffered with health problems and on a personal level thought it would be easier to control a diet if diners knew exactly what they’re consuming. 

Gauthier SohoGauthier Soho

Last year, New York was the first American city to implement a law stating that all chain restaurants had to put calorie information on their menus. In fact, it was a visit to New York that was another influencing factor in Gauthier’s decision.

Yet, whilst the New York law was viewed positively by Gauthier, it also caused an outcry when the likes of McDonalds and Starbucks were made to list their calories – with some shocking discoveries.

The McDonalds policy has meant that we can now read the calories of all their food over here too. In fact, on their website there’s a handy tool that allows you to select your food items and see the nutritional information of them. 

A Big Mac, regular fries and ketchup will set your diet back 845 calories. That’s a third of an adult male’s recommended daily intake, and 43% of an adult females. That doesn’t even include a drink or dessert.

So what do the calories look like at the other end of the dining spectrum?

Well, they don’t quite match up to the extremities of the fast food giant. The most calorific main meal at Gauthier Soho is the Angus Beef at 565kcal – nearly 300kcal less than the McDonalds equivalent. It’s not exactly difficult to guess which wins in the taste stakes either.

Gauthier’s head chef, Gerard Virolle, maintains this is not a decision made to promote the restaurant as a healthy option. No dishes are being changed and they aren’t aiming to be thought of as a ‘low fat’ restaurant. 

Alexis GauthierAlexis Gauthier

Has there been a change in dishes ordered? “Not at all,” he says, perhaps making the whole discussion void.

If the calorie figures aren’t persuading diners to opt for other dishes, it seems they really are there just to inform.

“We are not telling them what to eat,” Virolle says, “It’s like when you’re shopping in a supermarket and you can look at the packaging to read the nutritional information if you want.” His comparison is very valid; we’ve had to choice to read nutritional information on packaging for years. Maybe we shouldn’t be making such a fuss of this desire to inform the consumer reaching the opposite end of the dining spectrum.

When asked about whether he thinks other Michelin restaurants will follow suit, Virolle says confidently, “It is the future.”

Gauthier SohoGauthier Soho

Nutrition is something that should be watched and going overboard every day shouldn’t be an option. But do we really need to know that we’re about to consume exactly 565 calories?

There’s no doubt it gives diners the informed choice they set out to offer. So maybe that’s all that matters. The numbers are there discretely; it’s simply up to diners whether they choose to acknowledge them.

Then again, if nothing’s changed in the kitchen – maybe it’s not even worth fussing over.

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