Local chef teaming up with TV chef to promote healthy eating

By Stephen Dafoe

Legal – Chef Phil Hughes of Premium Food Services has joined celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, a global initiative to have people take a stand for real food. Hughes is currently using the program’s concepts in the school lunch program he runs in Legal but is looking to expand the benefits of good eating.

“There are a bunch of ambassadors sign up and they give you goals every month to achieve,” Hughes said of the Food Revolution program. “It’s about eating right and healthy for kids and adults in the workplace as well as at home. They give you toolkits on how to do these things and how to encourage those types of eating behaviours and habits to get away from eating manufactured foods.”

Hughes is one of two Oliver ambassadors in the province; the other is in Calgary. Behind the revolution is the desire to put the social aspect of eating back on the menu. “Everybody’s working,” Hughes said, adding the phrase “I’m too busy” is a common statement to condone eating on the run. “They always say time is a factor in that. These [eating together] are really special times and you have to cherish those times with your children and your significant other when you have a chance to sit around in front of the table.”

Hughes said when you look at the time it takes to make a wholesome meal, it really isn’t that much longer than grabbing something to go. “It takes 15 minutes to boil a carrot and it takes me a half hour to go to a restaurant and order,” Hughes explained. “Then it takes me another half hour to eat, so I’m there an hour or an hour-and-a-half.”

Inspired by school lunch program

The well-known local chef came in contact with the internationally-know Oliver after Hughes began doing some research into providing the school lunch program for École Citadelle in Legal. “I thought it was super important that I focus on healthy foods and that’s where it ended up pointing at,” Hughes said of Oliver’s Food Revolution initiative. “It’s a big thing in the States. It’s a big thing internationally.”

Hughes said the program is resulting in some excellent and affordable healthy food creations from the Revolution program. As a chef, Hughes has always tried to work with fresh, local ingredients. It is a concept he is building his food Revolution-inspired lunch program around. “They’re eating more vegetables and fruits in the school lunch program,” he said, adding the response from his young diners has been positive. “I show them little factoids with their lunches. Fun things – weird things about food – like a pop has nine teaspoons of sugar in it. Would you eat nine teaspoons of sugar? They’re visual aids that click people into thinking about these things.”

Hughes is presently in talks with the Town to bring the Food Revolution idea to Morinville in partnership with Morinville’s Community Services Department. He sees the Food Revolution as a good fit with the community’s ChooseWell initiative.

Above: Chef Phil Hughes preps a meal at a local club meeting in Morinville. The Legal businessman has joined TV chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution initiative. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

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