Paul Greening, head chef of Aqua Kyoto in London's Regent Street, has created a vitamin D menu at his restaurant in response to news that 80% of British adults are vitamin D deficient. He tells Neil Gerrard about the menu and his plans at the restaurant
How long have you been at Aqua Kyoto and why do you enjoy it?
I've been there for a year. Japanese food is my passion and it's great to have the freedom to create authentic Japanese dishes but using some really interesting
You've developed a vitamin D menu for the summer. Tell us more about this and why you decided to do it
Around 80% of Britons are deficient in vitamin D due to a lack of sunlight. Japanese food is naturally rich in vitamin D so it seemed like a great way to add
interest to the summer menu. At Aqua Kyoto, we have a beautiful terrace area where people can enjoy lunch in the sunshine and so the two go perfectly together.
You studied microbiology at university - what prompted you to become a chef instead of pursuing a career in science?
I studied microbiology as my father was a marine biologist. It's what I'd grown up with so it seemed a natural choice. However, my course wasn't as exciting
as I thought it would be; the work was quite repetitive and I found it a bit monotonous. I had always enjoyed cooking so pursued my love for it. As a chef I'm able to be creative and fun, which gives me a lot more satisfaction.
How does your knowledge of microbiology inform your cooking?
I enjoy the analytical process of creating everything from scratch which pulls on the skills I developed while studying microbiology.
Japanese food uses more fermentation and lacto fermentation than any other cuisine, which requires a scientific approach. I enjoy experimenting and creating my own misos and base ingredients.
You forage seaweed from the Kent coastline. Do we use enough seaweed in cooking?
No, I don't think we do and I think more British people would if they knew the health benefits. Seaweed contains alginate, which studies at Edinburgh University have found to be the best natural product to fight obesity. It's very light to eat and one of the best ingredients for vegetarians - it contains more iron per gram than fillet steak. I use a lot of different seaweeds on the menu including the spinach salad with toasted sesame and goma dressing.
What do you have planned next for Aqua Kyoto?
I'm planning a new Á la carte menu for summer, which will launch in July. We're working on an exciting new dessert called Fuji Apple. It's a deconstructed apple, put back together to look like one, but the apple itself is made of a glucose fondant and filled with apple foam. I'm also planning a special seaweed menu for September when it's really in season here.