Meet Jean the Allergy-Free Genie
Health food chef Jean Davy used to have a cafe in Sydney dedicated to the cause of allergy-free food - whether it was gluten-free, dairy-free, preservative-free, nut-free or soy-free, it could still be extremely delicious. After a sea-change and tree-change in the one move, she now lives near Port Macquarie where this year she's launched a health retreat - Amber Healing Farm - and a wholefood product range - Health in a Bag - a series of natural health products that can be delivered Australia-wide. STEWART DAWES speaks to her about a life dedicated to helping people improve their health by getting off the food allergy treadmill ...
When you started Cafe Allerjean in Warriewood Beach in 2001, did you find there was an instant audience for your style of food?
Yes i thought it would be sought out by people with allergies and it was - but i also found that people just wanted to eat differently. The more we experimented the better the clients liked the food. Allerjean was a wonderful environment for my delightful apprentices whom i hold very dear to my heart. I am once again starting to work with my then-apprentice Jamie who of course is qualified now. Yet i'm teaching him about health-conscious pastries and slices - he is now cheffing at Vespa Pacific Cafe in Narrabeen in Sydney.
Back then were you doing cooking classes?
No just teaching my apprentices and younger qualified chefs. But as I know, when I teach I also get to learn. I cherish my wonderful times with all the staff at Allerjean and of course the terrific clients Tteaching was something i was always asked to do but I just never seemed to get there. Until now anyway.
What inspired you to move to North Haven on the Mid-North-Coast in 2007?
My time came to an end at Allerjean Cafe and i needed a change. I'd had a dream five years previously that I would move to the Port Macquarie area but i had forgotten that dream - then all of a sudden the chance came up and I took a leap of faith.
How did you discover this beautiful property that you now call Amber Healing Farm?
When I started to look for property in Northaven I saw the place next door to me now in another dream. The dream took me up the stairs so when I was shown the property I knew it already. I moved up from Sydney hoping i was doing the right thing. But they wouldnt accept my offer i lived for 6 months at the brigadoon caravan park just down the road from where I now live. The house next door came on the market which i purchased , a clean slate for me to do with what i wished without to much infastructure I haven't looked back. i am blessed each day with the most beautiful outlook. I would say to anyone just TRUST yourself ... say what do i really want and go for it.
For readers who unlike me are not sitting in this beautiful place, can you describe the property to them?
The 32 acre property faces the ocean-fed Stingray Creek and backs onto Queens Lake. I leave the 28 acres at the back of he property untouched - it's completely natural. There's a tranquil walk down to the back lake. Plenty of kangaroos and native and migratory birds. The river is abundant in fish, dolphins and stingrays ... and eagles are regular visitors. The farm faces the prominant landmark Northbrother. All day long the mountain changes color - it's a special place to live and a wonderful peaceful environment to stay.
How important is relaxation to the digestion process?
Any food medicine will tell you to take your time with food - feel what the food is doing for you. Be present when you are eating - hope that makes sense!
What are your most popular products?
The omega 3 carrot cake, dandelion brownie, nettle pastries, carrot flaxsed pastry ginger mud cake, beetroot and carrot pastry seeded biscuits mung bean scones adzuki bean bread all of them really. The trail slice with quinoa is also doing well.
How many products are currently in your range?
24 ranging from slices cakes scones pastries trail slice bread mix, pattie mixes and many more.
Where have you delivered your products to so far?
All over the country - they post well. I send them registered post so they're well looked after.
I believe you’ve also started running cooking classes, including cooking classes for kids. Is the demand for that possibly triggered by Masterchef because my 4-year-old son loves that show?
I'm grateful to Masterchef it has bought people back into the kitchen and talking about food a show sent from heaven as far as i can see what better way to look at what were eating the show is working with fresh produce i know it is supported by chain supermarkets where the produce isn't ideal but it bought passion back to all ages across the board. From that space people start to look at other facets of there life including kids at GO Masterchef they are teaching Austalians to be passionate about food. And that is wonderful.
What’s the youngest age that a child can learn to cook?
When they can watch mum and dad prepare shop and cook their food. It is so important to teach your children to make nutritious choices with food Kids learn by example even if they move away from fresh food into their teens a good base in food will bring them back to what they were taught hopefully it was nutritious and healthy.
What recipes would you typically teach to children?
I teach food classes in the way children recognize recipes like vegetable wholefood rolls, chicken rolls, pizzas we make fruit jices pastas fresh tomato sauce our own soft cheeses to which we gozleme (spinach and fetta). I use my flatbread pizza base, tapioca pastry, beetroot carrot pastry and alfalfa and nettle which we use to make panned rotis.
Childhood obesity is a huge issue. Can teaching a child to cook have a positive influence on them adopting healthier eating habits?
Feeling touching and making food that tastes good allows them to make good choices. Cooking is a wonderful way to get chilren to be in touch with ther creative side. nature produces an incredable array of colors and textures to experiment with. i marvel at the colors in beetroot every time i cut it incredible. How clever is the earth!
Let’s talk about gluten-free food. How can someone tell that they’re allergic to gluten?
There are many symtoms but prdominantly they are tired after eating anything which contains wheat or gluten or both sore joints, fuzzy brain, cant be bothered, sore gut, bloated, bowel problems the list is very long. Struggle through their daily chores and work the symptoms of allergy just keep layering in your body so the tiredness can be overwhelming.
What are the most important things that people can eliminate from their diet to ease up their gluten intake?
Any grains or food products that contain wheat or gluten obviously bread pasta biscuits sauces icecream. Reading labels is really the only way to make sure IF all the ingredients are on there . Ingredients constantly change from one week to the next. So you need to be vigilant and hopefully the manfacturer has labelled all the ingredient at least that gives us a chance to make an informed choice. As I said before your body knows what foods it responds to and the ones it doesn't just a matter of listening and feeling.
Jean Davy completed a five-year apprenticeship through the East Sydney Technical College, finishing a Trade Commercial Cookery Course. Jean won the Apprentice of the Year three times and the overall Apprentice of the Year three times. Her apprenticeship was through the Royal North Shore Hospital. Jean thrived at North Shore — the catering team of dieticians always supported the use of fresh whole foods, and everything was freshly prepared from scratch. Their passion for excellent produce and ingredients inspired Jean to continue working with whole and chemical free foods, making this her life’s work. Check out the products on her website www.healthinabag.com.au and/or by following her on twitter: www.twitter.com/allerjean
SEO by @SEOtherapy:
Health Retreats in Australia
Health Foods in Australia
Wholefoods in Australia
Detox Weight Loss Retreats in Australia
Gluten-free Foods Australia
Food Allergies & How to Overcome Them
Health-conscious Chefs in Australia
Dairy Free Health Foods in Australia
Holistic Health Retreats in Australia
Weight Loss Retreats Near Sydney
Gluten-free Wholefoods Sydney Australia
Dairy Free Foods in Australia