American celebrity chef Jacques Laventure hopes to introduce Malayalis to veganism
In a country where mere mention of the word ‘beef’ may land one in trouble, Kerala is a safe haven. However, there’s another factoid which most of us neglect to link this ‘meat lover’s paradise’ with—it’s home to the largest number of diabetics in the nation. There is hope though, as many global studies have shown us that diet and lifestyle overhauls, particularly ones that embrace plant-based nutrition, are effective tools for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.
This is one of the reasons why New York-based Jacques Laventure, a celebrity chef, and his wife Shyno Mathew, a PhD in computational chemical engineering from Columbia University, have flown across the Atlantic. “Kerala is Shyno’s homeland and I’m in love with this region’s timeless traditions like Ayurveda,” begins Jacques, elaborating, “Yet, its beautiful people are on the frontlines of a battle against diabetes. To help them fight, we’re introducing Kochiites to ‘Get Fit Eat Well’ this weekend—a programme which has been successfully executed everywhere from San Diego to Shanghai. Our wish is to spread awareness about the vegan lifestyle. Ideally, getting everyone to eat clean and look lean.”
Despite being a territory with abundant organic produce, veganism as a concept has had it tough in this state. But, chef Jacques—an alumnus of the International Culinary Center where masterchefs like Wylie Dufresne cut their teeth—is unperturbed. “This is similar to the situation I faced in Texas, also a meat-loving state where veganism was once an alien notion. Still, I’m up for the challenge. People need to be shown that vegan food will provide required proteins; tastes great when prepared right; and is not an expensive option,” explains Jacques, who was once MTV’s viral sensation as ‘The Naked Chef’.
The wellness guru shares that they’ll be kicking things off in the city with a fun vegan cooking competition first. Nevertheless, this couple’s mission has a serious undertone to it. “Both Jacques’s dad and my own father have diabetes. We’re combating this epidemic on a personal level too and truly understand the struggles of how diabetes can affect families. This is why we’re on a quest to showcase veganism as a feasible lifestyle alternative,” concludes Shyno.
At Vivanta by Taj Malabar.
On September 23. From 11 am onwards.