By Adam MacDougall, News.com.au
CELEBRITY chef Darren Robertson knows all about healthy cooking and always tries to make time for exercise — and he says you don’t have to go to the gym to keep fit.
GETTING your kids to eat healthy food is a challenge every parent knows too well. But when it’s Darren Robertson doing the cooking, things surely get a little easier.
The renowned chef might have built his reputation working the stove at the acclaimed Three Blue Ducks, but he reckons he still does his best work at home — with two-year-old Archie doing the stirring.
“Kids just want to do what we do,” he says.
“And with Archie, I’ll make pasta with him, or we’ll make an omelet. He’s only stirring or turning things, but he’s still tasting, smelling and seeing. That’s why cooking is so great, because we get to use all of our senses.
“I couldn’t imagine not being able to cook and having kids. I like to eat fairly simple and healthy food, and I’m trying to pass that on.”
I caught up with Darren at his latest venture, Rocker in North Bondi, where he talked me through finding time to fit exercise into his increasingly busy schedule.
And as you can probably guess from a man who named his restaurant after a surfboard, the water plays a big part.
“I love to surf. I’ve never been much of a gym-junkie, but I’ll always surf, or I’ll soft-sand run if there’s no swell,” he says.
“You become a bit of a nicer person after exercising, too. My missus kicks me out the house and tells me to go for a surf or run.
“When the swell is big, it’s the one time when you’re totally in the moment. You’re not thinking about work or anything else. And you can’t say that often in our day-to-day lives.”
With Darren’s growing business empire demanding more and more of his time and energy, he’s more focused than ever on supplying his body with foods that will give him the energy he needs. But it was high up a snow-covered mountain that he first learned the importance of food as fuel.
“We’ve done a few pop-up restaurants, and I did one in Falls Creek where we had a restaurant in the snow,” he says.
“We would snowboard by day and cook by night, and I discovered that diet played this massive role in how long we could stay up on the mountain for, how long we could keep going for.
“So I started changing my diet then and incorporating a lot more nuts, seeds and grains. Ever since, I’ve naturally wanted to eat a healthier, balanced diet. For me, it’s about trying to maintain that energy level. Otherwise you just want to get on the couch and sleep, don’t you?”
GOING OLD SCHOOL
AS A huge believer in gut health, Darren’s big on natural probiotics. Go to his house, and you’ll find all sorts of airtight jars stuffed with cabbage or onions in different stages of fermentation.
“I’m quite into the old-school stuff — we’ve really taken an interest in fermenting and pickling and getting amongst all the probiotics that look after our guts,” he says.
“When you’re used to eating things like sauerkraut and kimchi, you find that without it, food can taste a bit flat. That’s why I do it, really, because it’s really tasty.
“But there are also the benefits of the probiotics that aid digestion and make you feel better. The fermentation process is so easy, and it gets rid of a lot of the nasty stuff in the food, too.”
FIND YOUR PHILOSOPHY
DARREN reckons the secret to eating healthier isn’t about fad diets or skipping meals, it’s about paying more attention to where our food comes from.
His food philosophy is to make more food from scratch, so he knows exactly what he’s putting in his body.
“I’ve never really liked mass-produced fast food, so for me we try to make as much food from scratch as we can — mostly because it’s fun,” he says.
“You know exactly what’s gone into your food. You know where it’s from, how it’s been treated and what it’s been eating. Which gives you not just huge health benefits, but it tastes better as well.
“At the moment I really like a lot more veggies. I like using proteins as a kind of backup-singer. I love a good steak, but that’s become almost a special-occasion thing for me now.”
Q. What’s your favourite healthy food?
Q. What’s your favourite unhealthy food?
A. Milk chocolate with hazelnuts. Or maybe fried chicken.
Q. What’s your favourite exercise?
A. Surfing is my go-to, physically and mentally.
Q. What’s your favourite music to get you motivated?
A. Anything by Queens of The Stone Age, or maybe a bit of Nirvana. Anything with a pulse.
Q. Why is being healthy important to you?
A. I just get more done. I know if I don’t go for a run or a surf, the world for becomes a bit of a dark place.
DARREN’S PINA COLADA PROTEIN SMOOTHIE
“This one is a bit of a fancy one, it’s a Pina Colada protein smoothie. So banana, coconut, almonds and a little bit of lime in there as well.
“Then it’s blended with coconut milk in my little bullet blender. I absolutely smash these.”
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