One of Australia’s hottest young chefs, Jonathan Barthelmess is the chef and co-owner of The Apollo restaurant in Potts Point, Sydney, alongside Longrain’s Sam Christie. Jonathan has made a career of incorporating Mediterranean techniques and flavors into his cooking. Mentored by Stefano Manfredi and Janni Kyritsis, he has built upon his own Greek heritage to develop his uniquely innovative style and techniques.
Formerly the head chef at Coast, Jonathan earned that restaurant a 2007 Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat, and a five-star review from Time Out in 2008. In 2009, Coast was honored with a glowing review from Gourmet Traveller magazine’s Italian edition, and he was nominated for best new talent of the year.
In this interview, Jonathan talks about the importance of fresh produce in developing the menus for Italian cuisine offered at Coast that featured a heavy seafood component. Both of these are important ingredients of a nutritious diet, a foundation of overall health. And as you know, oral health and overall health go hand in hand.
Healthy Aspects of Jonathan Barthelmess’s Style of Cooking
One of the features of Mediterranean cooking that makes it supportive of tooth health is its reliance on fresh seafood. As we know, seafood such as sardines and mackerel with the bones in as well as shrimp, oysters and salmon are all good sources of calcium. Yogurt is another great source of calcium that is featured in the cuisine of many Mediterranean chefs.
At The Apollo, the Greek inspired menu contains many dishes that incorporate yoghurt, as well as a variety of healthy seafood entrees. Another wonderful, calcium-rich ingredient featured is walnuts. All of these foods are great for helping build and strengthen tooth enamel.
On a broader scale, the inclusion of wonderful ingredients like pomegranates, with their healthy, anti-oxidant properties, is a plus. Clearly this is a menu that showcases a great variety of fresh produce in exciting ways, from the Steamed Asparagus with Almonds and Chili to the Wild Weed and Cheese Pie. We also see a preponderance of dishes that are cooked over wood or charcoal, as opposed to the less healthy deep fried method that brings with it so many negative health consequences.
Even in the dessert menu, where we typically find the greatest threats to dental health as well as overall health, Barthelmess shows restraint and good sense. Items like Loukoumades (honey doughnuts) made with pomegranate, yoghurt and pistachio, Ouzo Marinated Pineapple Pomegranate Granita Vanilla Cream and a Walnut Filo Pastry with Coffee Cream seem to balance out the decadence of taste with the inclusion of healthy ingredients. While it wouldn’t be recommended to indulge in sweets like this every day, topping off a restaurant meal with one of these desserts once in a while wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for most people.
Learning from Celebrity Chefs
In recent years, cooking has merged with entertainment to create a legion of celebrity chefs who inspire us regularly with their delicious recipes. From Master Chef to Alive and Cooking and everything in between, television cooking shows offer an abundance of creativity to give us ideas for creating our own meals in new and exciting ways. While we can’t expect any celebrity chef to be completely in line with all of our own dietary and health needs, we can certainly look to them for guidance when applying the principles we follow in practice.
And of course, there are the recipes. Trying new recipes is always a fun way to expand our repertoire of healthy dishes to prepare for ourselves and our families. The more comfortable you become with experimenting, the easier it becomes to substitute ingredients where necessary to adapt recipes for your own use.
Here’s a great one to try. It was featured on the Morning Show a little while back: Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb and Farro Salad. It’s a great representation of the way Jonathan Barthelmess uses whole foods and healthy ingredients to deliver nutrition and flavor in one, sumptuous package.