New nutrition course inspires sustainable menus

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New nutrition course inspires sustainable menus

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Tara Leong and students.

30 August 2017

A 2013 University of the Sunshine Coast Nutrition graduate who used her degree to establish a successful health business is delighted to be back at USC, teaching others how to turn sustainable food principles into careers.

Tara Leong, of Sunrise Beach, is a nutritionist and consultant with more than 70,000 followers across social media including her website ‘The Nutrition Guru and The Chef’, run with chef husband Jeff Leong. The pair published a cookbook and had recipes selected in The Great Australian Cookbook.

Ms Leong, a 35-year-old former personal trainer and dancer, said it was a dream come true to be offered a USC lecturing role and the chance to create a course on menu design with a focus on sustainability in the food service industry.

“It’s a practical course that teaches USC Nutrition students about the skills required for menu and recipe development so they can consult with industry,” she said.

“Students can use their knowledge of food science and chemistry from their degree to take the next step of creating recipes and menus that are healthy and based around principles such as reducing food miles, waste and packaging.

“This opens a range of opportunities for graduates, from contributing to cookbooks to consulting in childcare centres.”

The USC class was recently inspired by a demonstration and talk by Spicers Group executive chef Cameron Matthews, who runs two-hatted The Long Apron Restaurant at Montville.

“Cameron shared his experiences of travelling Europe and America to work in top Michelin-star restaurants and research their sustainability practices in the kitchen,” Ms Leong said.

“He created a dish using foods normally thrown out – broccoli stalks and cauliflower leaves – as well as produce from our own USC Moving Feast garden. He used mustard leaves to wrap prawn mince and ricotta, nasturtiums and edible flowers.

“The students were raving about it and when they got into the kitchen, they used his leftover ingredients to make a soup to eat for lunch.”

Ms Leong, who recently spoke at a Dietitians Association of Australia conference on the use of social media for nutrition professionals, said she had enrolled at USC to follow a passion after growing up in country New South Wales watching her mother cook the family’s food from scratch.

“I was inspired by my lecturers and I liked learning how to help people make good health decisions based on simple, credible evidence, not just opinion,” she said.

“Once I got that qualification, I networked, consulted, created recipes for food companies, created menus for people and businesses, and spoke in the media about nutrition. I created my own job on the Sunshine Coast. Now I’m pinching myself to be working at USC too.”

Her website is http://www.thenutritionguruandthechef.com/

Julie Schomberg

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