A Chef With A Vision

28A passion to create healthy, yet delicious meals is something that Vida Downtown Dubai’s Executive Chef James Knight-Pacheco does best. He tells HEALTH how he makes it work.

His Vision
My vision for Vida Downtown Dubai’s culinary landscape was simple; to implement the use of more fresh produce and to utilize seasonal ingredients in a more creative way to curate healthy options that have a funky, yet contemporary flair.

Healthy Eating
“I think that the best way to start with healthy eating is with the ingredients one uses, by focusing on locally sourced options, and fresh, natural produce you are already half way there. For example, in our flatbreads we have dishes like the ‘Good Avo’ which features avocado and smoked Salmon or the Herbie sharing style pizza board which is a plethora of veggies and from our salads, opting for Tuna and Salmon Fillet as light, lean protein options.”

Packing in Flavor
“A common misconception is that the healthier the recipe, the less flavor it has, which is not the case – often with the fresh ingredients that we use here, and the combinations of aromas and zest, we get a powerful punch of flavor in the dishes we have created for the new menu. I am very excited to share with Dubai our new culinary vision and to let my kitchen here be an example of how fun healthy eating can be.”

“We really chose to implement different healthy options, vegan and vegetarian options into the menu, and give those who are gluten intolerant options. For example, close to 50 percent of our guests is vegan, so this shift in popular culture is something we need to recognize and also to show people that you can eat healthy without sacrificing flavor or great taste. The Vida Food Truck is a great example of that, taking traditional ‘street food’ and flipping it upside down, giving it a healthy twist and using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.”

The Buzzword: Detox
“Remember to detox gradually; many people jump into a detox plan, or try to do a juice cleanse in one week, or become vegan overnight. This can actually have the reverse effect on you
– slow and steady wins the
race. Gradually switching to fresher foods, and using organic ingredients and staying away from the many processed foods out there will lead to longevity and lasting changes in your eating habits. And drink lots of water –seems like we really can never get enough.” H

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