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"Back in my 20’s, like many of us, I could get away with eating anything."

Back in my 20’s, like many of us, I could get away with eating anything.  Being a chef, I’d be grazing all day, and wouldn’t think about what I was eating or the amount of food I’d have eaten throughout the day. Plus, most of what you are doing as a chef is creating delicious food, rather than worrying about the calories or health benefits.  Being young, my metabolism was high, so mostly I got away with it.  But eventually, it caught up. If you’ve ever worked in hospo, you’ll know, you work long hours, on your feet all day and come home tired.  The skinny was; I wasn’t eating right or exercising right. So, I beefed up. 

A few years ago, I got to a point where I wasn’t looking or feeling great and realised I had to start looking after myself.  When I started doing a bit for TV it also gave me added motivation to look and feel my best.  I had a really busy schedule and I needed to feel better to keep up with it all.  I’m sure most people can relate to putting their health second to family, work, commitments – life!

So, I started with a PT, who helped me get in shape. Then I started being a lot more aware and selective about what and how much I was eating. So, I dropped a few kgs. and felt a lot better.

"what really got me serious about my health
was being diagnosed with an ulcer ."  

But, what really got me serious about my health was being diagnosed with an ulcer about a year ago.  That was the catalyst for getting more scientific about what I was eating. I got a nutritionist (who was brilliant) and that experience got me researching and creating menus with healthier food options.

I read a great book called the Omnivores Dilemma (by Michael Pollan) that discusses how our eating has changed over time, the emergence of convenience food, organic vs industrial farming and how this influences our culture.  It was a great book to really make me think about where I source food, seasonal buying and the diversity in my diet.  This lead to changes to the menus I curate.

My wife Cara and I also made some changes at home, although with 3 small kids, for them it’s all about what tastes good, which usually means fatty meals. So now we do small things, like make our own sourdough bread (great for gut health) and use the crumbs for schnitzel - then there’s no preservatives. We hardly ever eat potatoes, so it’s kumara and pumpkin on the menu. The kids love it.  We buy organic when we can, and we have even subscribed to an organic unpasteurised milk cooperative in our area.  Little changes make a big difference. 

I’m always researching and learning about food, and after reading ‘The Art of Fermentation’ (by Sandor Ellix Katz)  I got into fermenting vegetables which we prepare for The Grounds menus. I eat kimchi every day now.  It helps keep my stomach bacteria doing their job.

Having been a chef for 20+ years I can see that times have really changed the average kiwi’s dining out expectations and wants.  Kiwis expect food to be exceptionally fresh.  So, at The Grounds we source our fruit and vegetables from hand selected local growers.  Who are amazing.  Plus, kiwi palates have matured to enjoy a broader range of food types, from traditional Asian (even meat on the bone) to more spicy versions of Indian and Mexican.  It’s good to see people are more adventurous and far more knowledgeable than ever before on what food should taste like. 

Over the coming months, I’ll be sharing some of the resources I’ve found useful in my personal journey toward healthier eating.  I’ll share my learnings and tasty, healthy recipes that you can put to use at home.  I hope you’ll enjoy.

Here’s my recipe for Kimchi- this is what we prepare at The Grounds,.  It's my favorite to match with eggs.


Ben Bayly

 The Grounds Restaurant at Whoa! Studios

In case you haven't heard the news;  The Grounds has launched a new and revised Brunch to Lunch and Dinner menus.  All the dishes feature super fresh, delicious, locally sourced produce.  With the exception of french fries…but then that’s a whole other story.




The Grounds New Brunch to Lunch Menu, features a broader breakfast and lunch offering including some old classics such as Eggs Florentine and a delicious twist on the traditional Big Breakfast to include Italian sausage and sauerkraut.  Here's a new lunch addition to tempt your taste buds. 


Smoked & peppered pancetta, fried sage & nut brown butter.  


Can't wait to try it out?

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