Organic Mechanic - Microbiome Mega Degustation: A mouthful in more ways than one!

A four course degustation menu focused on the health of the intestinal microbiome may not be part of a scientist’s normal working day, but it was how Riddet Institute and AgResearch scientists Drs Karl Fraser and Matthew Barnett, and Riddet Institute Deputy Director Professor Warren McNabb, spent the evening on Tuesday 7 August. They were present at the “Organic Mechanic – Microbiome Mega Degustation” at Shepherd Restaurant in Wellington. The brainchild of Chef Shepherd and science communicator and documentary maker Rachel Millar, and part of the “Road to Beervana” food and beer festival, this very special event gave insight for a select group of diners into their gut microbiome and what foods can help to keep it in good shape. Karl, Warren and Matthew had already provided the background on what ingredients could be included in the menu, such as fibre- and polyphenol-rich fruits and vegetables, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and plenty of fermented foods like kombucha, pickles, and miso. Shepherd and his team took this information and developed the “Microbiome degustation” menu, designed to not only delight the taste buds of those consuming it (which it most surely did), but to help keep their gut microbiome healthy. On the night, Karl and Matthew (with some well-timed interjections from Warren) gave an introduction to the gut microbiome in all its marvellous diversity, why it is important for our overall health, and why the particular foods were chosen, while sous-chef Roberta Jean Young described the preparation of each menu item. In addition, each course had a matching beer supplied by North END brewery (and introduced by head brewer Kieran Haslett-Moore), a reminder that we not only have essential microbes living inside us, but we use those around us to help produce a wide array of delicious foods and beverages. Overall, a very enjoyable and informative evening which left the taste buds tingling!

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