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Phuket: Prepare to meat your maker

PHUKET: Dutch chef Marco Westmaas wows diners with his vegetarian-made ‘meat’.

Sunday 18 November 2012, 01:36PM

Dutch Chef Marco Westmaas with Boathouse GM Marie-Laure Fleury.

Dutch Chef Marco Westmaas with Boathouse GM Marie-Laure Fleury.

Driving through the wilds of New Zealand’s South Island last December, I had no idea I was amongst one of the world’s future food sources.

Lining all the roads in New Zealand’s south is the colourful carpet of lupins. Yes, the flowers – purples, greys, pinks, lilacs and yellows. Lupins are also apparently an excellent food source.

Nearly 12 months later I am seated at Phuket’s Re Ka Ta Beach Club sampling a true culinary adventure, featuring, yes, some foods sourced from the beans of the lupin plant.
Dutch master chef Marco Westmaas made a flying visit to the island to oversee a sneak preview of a 12-course degustation menu that will be held at Re Ka Ta on December 7.

Although this thoroughly tantalising adventure in tastes won’t be strictly vegetarian, it will feature some of Marco’s newest offerings from his ‘vegetarian butchery’.

Marco is well aware of the looming world food shortage and the unsustainable nature of farming animals for food.

The issue has become a passion for him, but rather than becoming a preacher of ‘mung beans and carrot sticks’, Marco has instead turned to a whole new array of exciting tastes.

But, hang on, that’s fillet steak, chicken and tuna on the menu, isn’t it? They are in fact vegetarian alternatives – alternatives so convincing they have fooled even the most ardent meat lovers.

Even Spanish chef Ferran Adria swore it was chicken he was tasting after being presented with Marco’s chicken substitute from one of the chef’s Vegetarian Butcher outlets in The Netherlands.

The first Vegetarian Butcher shop opened its doors in October 2010 in The Hague. Now, there are 30 spread all over The Netherlands and Europe. The display counter of these shops challenges even the most ardent foodies. The faux meat products are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

“Lupins are a common thread through a lot of my foods. It is a very important story. Guests appreciate that commitment to the environment and good, honest food,” said Marco at Re Ka Ta last week.

I can vouch for the tastes. I could only describe the samples of the full 12-course adventure as extraordinary – unlike anything I have ever tasted before. 

The ‘fillet steak’ didn’t have me completely fooled but, wow, what a fascinating alternative to vegetarian food we’ve been served in the past.

This adventure into a whole new world of flavours and tastes is being held at the Re Ka Ta Beach Club on December 7 and will be supervised by master chef Marco Westmaas, sharing a whole new world of gastronomy – for our pallet, our health and the future of the planet’s food supplies.

The next dinner will be held on December 7, with cocktails starting at 7pm.

Price: B3,900++ inclusive of beverages. For more information and bookings contact info@boathousephuket.com or phone 076 330 015.

Story by Tim Newton.



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