Andy Kun is the co-founder of Urban Health, a private kitchen and catering service that also aims to spread the gluten-free gospel. He tells Liv Magazine about founding of the company, and why going gluten-free is more than just a fad diet.
I came back to Hong Kong 10 years ago. My partner suddenly started having stomach issues and mood swings. Aft er seeing the doctor he found that he was intolerant to wheat, as a result of IBS.
From being able to eat everything and anything, to only eating steamed chicken and plain rice at home was a very difficult time – especially being in a foodie heaven like Hong Kong. I made a real effort to learn more about gluten intolerance and what he could and couldn’t have. I created dishes he loved and could safely eat.
So then we thought, why not start a company to bring health to local Hongkongers?
It hasn’t been easy getting Hong Kong to understand more about the gluten-free lifestyle. There’s very little belief in this in Hong Kong – sometimes from the old generation’s standpoint, they still think there’s no such thing [as gluten intolerance].
I would recommend that people avoid ordering deep-fried dishes. In some restaurants the deep-fryer has cooked foods that contain wheat products. The process of deep-frying doesn’t actually get rid of what was in there before.
We used to go to Chinese restaurants and order boiled chicken or vegetables, but quite oft en the water used to soak the chicken or vegetables, or to make rice noodles, had been contaminated by wheat noodles.
A lot of people seem to just think it’s a fad diet. Friends and family of sufferers can educate people around them about the effects [of gluten intolerance] – it’s not just something that’s in the sufferer’s mind.
If you go gluten-free but don’t watch what you eat, that certainly won’t help you lose weight!
Everyone’s idea of healthy eating is different. But healthy eating can be very cheap. Eat fewer processed foods, have more veggies in your diet, and exercise regularly. These are achievements in their own right.
I treat myself [to dishes with gluten], but I’m not on the coeliac level. I wouldn’t recommend anyone who is diagnosed to have cheat days.
Having allergies or gluten intolerances could be
a blessing in disguise. What it really means to go gluten-free is to not to simply eat processed gluten-free food – it’s really about going wholesome. But you also have to take care of other aspects of your health, too.
In the next few years I would love to see Urban Health preparing meals in schools, and perhaps even up in the air.
Urban Health provides gluten-free catering as well as food consultancy services for establishments or individuals. Find out more at urbanhealth.hk.