The idea behind the well-known phrase, “You are what you eat,” and Michael Pollan’s, “You are what you eat eats,” is to remind us of the connection between the meals we consume and our personal health and well-being.
It’s tempting to bite your thumb at such phrases, before biting into something sugary and right in front of you, winking at you with those rainbow sprinkles. It’s particularly tempting when on holiday. But there are several hotels and restaurants around the world offering dishes with less guilt and more nourishment – dishes made from ingredients that are healthy, organic and local.
1. Le Bernardin, United States
Where: The Michelin Guide three-star French seafood restaurant, Le Bernardin can be found in Manhattan in New York.
Why: At Le Bernardin, chef/co-owner Eric Ripert serves the freshest seafood and only quality ingredients. The menu is divided into “almost raw,” “barely touched,” and “lightly cooked,” and features dishes such as striped bass tartare, braised octopus and seafood truffle pasta.
2. Meadowood, United States
Where: Meadowood is situated in the heart of Napa Valley’s wine country in America.
Why: The Restaurant at Meadowood, headed by three-star Chef Christopher Kostow, serves dishes born from the highest-quality ingredients that are sourced from local artisans, growers, foragers and other producers. They blend contemporary French cuisine with the farm-to-table tradition. "We have nearly everything we need right in our own garden,” says Kostow, “I often use radishes because we grow various species that are ready to eat in spring, summer or winter. For example, I make an amuse-bouche with radishes: a black rye macaroon with fresh butter and a wafer-thin slice of radish. Radish and butter is a wonderful combination — with a pinch of sea salt!"
3. Manresa Restaurant, United States
Where: Manresa Restaurant lies at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.
Why: Chef David Kinch’s menu is a celebration of the mountains, fields, and sea of the area, using the vast bounty of California - its orchards and gardens, the coast and the vineyards - to inspire his meals. His partner, the nearby Love Apple Farms grows fruits and vegetables exclusively for the restaurant, ensuring fresher, more nutritional ingredients.
4. El Silencio Lodge & Spa, Costa Rica
Where: This eco-lodge and spa lies in a tropical cloud forest in Bajos del Toro in Costa Rica’s central highlands.
Why: The restaurant highlights ingredients sourced from its own small organic farm, serving dishes inspired by traditional Costa Rican cuisine. Chef Carlos Andres Melendez focuses on the purity of fresh flavours, vibrant colours, and just-picked textures with gluten-free vegetarian dishes created from the tropical products in the region. Guests have an opportunity to draw from the land and select ingredients from the garden or fish for their own trout.
5. Txai Resort Itacaré, Brazil
Where: Txai Resort is situated on Itacarezinho beach, at the edge of the Atlantic Forest.
Why: Blending Brazilian and European influences, the focus of the cuisine at Txai Resort Itacaré is on freshness and health, using plenty of fruits and vegetables from local farmers and fish from local fishermen wherever possible. Headed by French chef, Aurélien Roche, the restaurant has five vegetarian tasting menus with dishes like a fruit ceviche with cocoa honey garnished with coconut, leafy greens and banana, mushroom risotto with parmesan, and homemade salted granola with cocoa, and caponata-style stuffed heart of palm seasoned with cocoa and okra chips.
6. Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira, Chile Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira
Where: A farm and hotel in one, the Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira is situated in the heart of the Cordillera of the Andes in Pucon, Chile, a region alive with volcanoes and mystic forests.
Why: The Hotel's dishes are made with fresh and organic products and inspired by traditional Mapuche recipes. Chef Alberto Damian Fernandez Dupouy’s menu highlights Chilean vegetarian dishes, like a microgreen salad with seasonal vegetables and garden-fresh herbs or carrot soup with turmeric foam made from almond milk and edible flowers.
7. Le Coquillage at Les Maisons de Bricourt, France
Where: The restaurant, Le Coquillage at Les Maisons de Bricourt calls Brittany, near Saint-Malo, in France home.
Why: Le Coquillage’s cuisine features produce from the bay of Cancale, where Executive Chef, Olivier Roellinger, was born. Enhancing the natural health benefits of seafood, such as shellfish, fish, algae, Roellinger uses only fish from local and environmentally friendly fisheries.
8. Le Suquet, Sébastien Bras, France
Where: The Bras Restaurant at Le Suquet is situated in the Aubrac, in the Aveyron in France.
Why: Running the Suquet since 2009, Sébastien Bras brings the same focus and sensitivity to his dishes as his father, Michel – the originator of the vegetarian menu and the chef who popularised local, seasonal food before it became the norm. Sébastien’s dishes centre on the vegetables of the Aubrac. He sources the best, mostly organic produce from the local market and fishmonger and picks shoots, herbs, vegetables, roots or flowers from the garden at Lagardelle for his dishes, each day.
9. Shreyas Retreat, India
Where: One of the finest yoga retreats in the world, Shreyas is located in Bangalore.
Why: Shreyas Retreat is strictly vegetarian and has a no alcohol/smoking policy. Meals are freshly prepared using ingredients from the organic gardens, and are inspired by Indian, Continental, Mexican and Oriental gourmet Vegetarian cuisine. The focus is on food that is fresh, seasonal, light and nutritious. Menus are tailored to each guest - following a consultation with an in-house Ayurvedic or Naturopathy doctor. There are also special packages such as a Weight Management and a Culinary Retreat.
10. Hikariya-Nishi, Japan
Where: This ancient “Kura”, a Japanese traditional storehouse, is located in Matsumoto, a mountain city on Japan’s main island, called Honshu.
Why: Chef Masahiro Tanabe prepares refined natural French cuisine and focuses on a macrobiotic vegetarian menu with seven dishes. Passionate about the quality of ingredients, he sources the freshest vegetables and products, such as Shinshu beef or salmon from local farmers. Try the Bavarian onion cream garnished with pea sauce, shiitake mushroom terrine and seaweed soup with truffles, and textured soy in a bowl of steamed turnips with balsamic sauce.