are you low-carb conscious?

Consumption of processed carbohydrates is down in the US, a fact that is having a dramatic impact on the food industry. Just recently, New World Pasta, America’s largest pasta manufacturer and maker of San Giorgio, Creamette and Ronzoni dry pastas, filed for bankruptcy. Many other food companies are also fighting to stay afloat, rolling out reduced carbohydrate products in order to increase sales.

Chefs, the low-carb revolution is here, and if you’re not evaluating your menus and thinking like your Atkins- and South-Beach-Diet-obsessed patrons, this is your wake up call. More and more, diners are opting for light meals consisting primarily of lean protein and vegetables that are low in starch. When the craving for carbohydrates inevitably kicks in, they are choosing whole grain products over highly processed breads and pastas.

While diet fads tend to swing like a pendulum, the low-carb diet has gained significant sustained momentum in our culture and cannot be ignored. So what does the low-carb craze mean for chefs? Should you throw traditional pasta by the wayside and switch to things like whole wheat spaghetti? Should you stop serving breadbaskets? Not necessarily. Balance is important for chefs and consumers alike. Your menu doesn’t have to be totally carb-free, but could feature a variety of low-carb options, say by offering artisanal multi-grain or sourdough breads? The key point is to organize your menu in a way that makes it easy for low-carb diners to order a meal and feel confident that they can follow the guidelines of their diet without sacrificing taste.

Chef Kris Wessel in South Florida (home of the South Beach Diet) has created a menu packed with low-carb offerings. Wessel favors simple grilling techniques to showcase the bold, citrusy flavors of his Mediterranean dishes. Consider taking your cue from this chef, who doesn’t turn his back on his staunch carb-lovers by offering à la carte starch dishes plus a variety of homemade pastas.


Chef Kris Wessel’s Low-Carb Recipes:

Grilled Sardines with Spicy Chermoula & Sea Salt
Pomegranate & Lemon Shrimp
Preserved Lemon & Green Tomato Grouper
Tunisian Lamb Spare Ribs

Published: July 2004