“There’s a lot of crap out there. It’s time to change the game,” Casey George-Jolson thought two-and-a-half years ago. “I like to eat healthy and I like to know where my food comes from, but I also like to enjoy a glass of wine and a burger. I just want to be able to satisfy myself, satisfy my kids and satisfy my husband,” she says.
Together with husband Jerome Jolson she’s the co-owner of BEN’S Supernatural, which opened recently on Chapel Street.
BEN’S (Balance Energy Nutrition Sustenance) is a healthy fast-food restaurant with a nutritionist on board. In this kitchen you’ll find nothing that has come in contact with refined sugar, trans fats, hormones or preservatives.
The venue doesn’t look like the kind serving fries at 4am either. Filled with white tables and chairs, 100 per cent recycled timber panelling and an open kitchen, the space’s focal point is a central pillar draped in devil’s ivy creeper, which will soon grow along the roof to resemble a tree canopy.
The all-day menu of salads, burgers, wraps, pizza, breakfast bowls and smoothies took nearly two years to design, ensuring everything has maximum flavour using ingredients with minimal variation from their natural state.
For example, the burgers’ lean, free-range, grass-fed beef patties are first sous-vide (cooked in a water bath) to seal in fat and flavour, before being browned on a grill. This way the fat content in the mince is high enough to conduct heat through the searing process, so no oil needs to be added to the grill.
The burger is served with your choice of salad and sauce on an organic sourdough bun, a gluten-free bun, or a low-carb bun – all three are baked in-house.
Jolson, nutritionist Bannie Williams and executive chef David Selex have also created an online nutrient calculator, which has the nutritional information for every ingredient and item at BEN’s and can help you customise your meal to suit your dietary preferences.
Selex began his career at Grossi Florentino before moving to London to work with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and at Nobu before opening his own restaurant in Mayfair. After 15 years abroad, he returned home for his family.
Selex’s interest in health food was accelerated when his youngest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes at 11 months of age.
“She nearly passed away because she couldn’t tell us that she was feeling so shit,” he says. “ The positive is that we can try and make a difference. I want to be able to take my daughter out to have a burger and fries, and we come here and she can have anything she wants on the menu.”
“That’s the best thing as a parent,” George-Jolson adds, “[to say] ‘eat what you want!’ Not, ‘if you eat those veggies we’ll give you an ice-cream.’”
The couple’s two children were the menu testers for BEN’s, because they’re the hardest to please, George-Jolson says.
“If we can get it past them, we figure we’re onto a winner.”
BEN’S Supernatural Fast Food
670 Chapel Street, South Yarra
(03) 9826 1106
Mon to Fri 7:30am–9pm
Sat to Sun 8:30am–9pm
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