Top chefs loan voices to debate over health certification

by / Thursday, 17 January 2013 / Published in Restaurant Financing, Restaurant Loans displays the curvy, red SPE logo at the top right corner.


If you own a chain of restaurants, in certain states you are required to loan space on your menu to displaying calorie counts. Many of the restaurants that fall under this requirement are fast food chains, turning the three digit (usually) strings into a stamp of unhealthiness sprawled across big board menus. This, although most people know there is more to healthfulness than calories.

According to The New York Times, Emmanuel Verstraeten, the owner of Rouge Tomate in New York City, hopes to turn this concept on its head. Instead of numbers, he dreams of dressing up menus across the globe with a little red logo. His script SPE — Sanitas Per Escam, Latin for “health through food” — will note that a dish or restaurant meets a holistic set of health standards.

The concept is in full force at Rouge Tomate. The chefs works with a dietician to make sure food options are as nutritious as they are tasty.The menu changes with the season, this month ingredients include honeycrisp apples, curried cabbage and Long Island Duck. In the restaurants food you will not find any butter or much salt.

Despite Rouge Tomate’s succeses (Zagat gives the restaurant a 25 for food and the Rouge Tomate appeared in the 2012 Michelin guide) some chefs are skeptical about Verstraeten’s concept.

Famous French chef Eric Ripert, for example, told the Times, “I wouldn’t put the little sticker or red dot next to a dish, because it means that the other dishes are not healthy and are not responsible.” It would cannibilze the rest of the menu, he seems to be saying. Ripert also worries about demonizing butter and salt too much. “Since when is butter bad?”

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