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Calorie menus won't help us slim -- chef Derry

CELEBRITY chef Derry Clarke says the calorie counting on menus will make "no difference" to the health of the nation.

The owner of Michelin- starred restaurant L'Ecrivain, on Lower Baggot Street, Dublin, told the Herald that people will not pay any attention to calories when ordering their food in high-end restaurants as they view it as a "treat".

"It'll make no difference to the health of the nation next year. People will ignore it," he said. "People coming in here today who've already had 1,000 calories are not going to look at the menu and say, 'oh I won't have a desert because I've had enough calories already today'.

Chicken

"I watch what I eat but not when I go to a restaurant or I'm on holidays. I don't want to think about it then."

He added: "Counting calories is not the key to losing weight or being healthier.

"It's how you live -- do you walk, do you go to the gym? It's more about being active. If you sat down all day and ate 2,000 calories as a woman you still wouldn't be healthy."

The chef said implementing the calorie counting on menus could cost restaurants like his own up to €400 per dish.

But he said he will be using a free toolkit by Unilever to tot up the calories on his meals.

"I would have to outsource this to a company and we're talking €300 to €400 per dish to send out and get it checked.

"But Unilever launched a calorie count on menus toolkit on laptops and it's free, and it's foolproof. You just enter in a piece of chicken and veg and it gives the calories count."

However, he said: "I'd much prefer to do it voluntarily. We're working on it as we speak and it'll take a month or two for us to introduce it."

Derry explained that while trade was bad earlier this year, it's now picking up with the tourist season. But he said introducing calorie counts on his menus is not the same as introducing it in big chain restaurants.

"The big chains have the same menus all over the country, and if they do the calories on one menu, it's done. But we change the menus everyday."

"I'm against having an enforcement and legislation from government. I want a choice for businesses.

"There's enough legislation and red tape in Ireland and this would be another thing that the Government is telling my business to do."