On a bright and sunny Byron Bay day we sat down with Tusta, head chef of Heart & Halo, a hare-krishna inspired restaurant. His tangy home brewed chai awakened our senses (and tastebuds) and the beautiful curry really did remind us of family cookin’. It was hearty, wholesome, and downright delicious. We’ll let the photos, his description, and the interview speak for themselves.
It’s basic human nature to look after each other.
“Heart & Halo offers a wide variety of global vegetarian dishes with distinct Indian Ayurvedic influences. Tusta, the head chef brings over 20 years of experience and adds his own flavour and style to all meals he prepares. Tusta has travelled to many places of the world but it is his love of India that has influenced his cooking the most. All meals are vegetarian and will tempt even the most fussiest of eaters.
Heart & Halo sources only the freshest spices, beans and grains to ensure the fullest of flavour. Only healthy oils are used for cooking and Himalayan salt is used to help improve your wellbeing.
The best local & organic produce is used when and where ever possible to make our fabulous vegetarian meals.
Heart & Halo offers an amazing range of great value Curries, Vegetable Baked Dishes, Hearty Lentil and Vegie Soups, Rice, Bean and Grain Dishes, the freshest salads and a selection of mouth watering drinks, sweets and snacks.
All that we prepare and offer contains only the best ingredients including Himalayan Salt. With 84 trace minerals, your body will benefit even long after your meal is complete.
Heart & Halo only uses oils that are good for you, not the common oils that may leave carcinogenic residue in your body.
But above all, Heart & Halo food is prepared and served with LOVE to benefit you and our beautiful community.”
They are always wholesome foods that remind you of home.
Why did you decide to open a restaurant here in Byron Bay?
I realised that local people want down to earth, quality food. There are a lot of health shops offering organic produce but they tend to be very expensive. I opened Heart & Halo to offer the local people exactly that but at affordable prices.
Could you name some of the produce that you use here at Heart & Halo?
We use organic Himalayan salt and cold press oils to improve my customers well-being.
Why do you think it’s so important to use organic produce?
It’s basic human nature to look after each other, and by growing foods organically, it’s simply looking after something that looks after us. It’s really nurturing through food. Festivals and celebrations are based around feasts and sharing, food is so important to so many cultures so it’s only right that we respect it.
Are you vegetarian?
Yes, by the time I was 17 or 18 I was over meat. I had worked in cafes and restaurants in Sydney and was sick of the smell, oil, and fat. There’s a huge disconnection between people and meat these days. They only see it in cellophane.
What inspired you to open Heart & Halo?
The idea came together after I had travelled. I’m a believer in indigenous cooking and the way it’s made with love. They are always wholesome foods that remind you of home. Backpackers come here and say that ‘it tastes like home’, which is great. I loved how diverse the diets were in India. How they live is just amazing! Too many people live on land that’s half the size of Australia, and they manage it in harmony. I believe it’s because they are all working for the same reason, whether it be a group or family unit. I was looking for something real to do, so naturally I thought of feeding people.
So you teamed your beliefs and travel discoveries together to create Heart & Halo?
It’s not about me, it’s about the food. There’s no ego here, not like MasterChef! I didn’t create it, I’m just passing the message on through the love and appreciation of food. I’m so thankful of the opportunity I have been given to spread the love through the food I serve.
For more information on Heart & Halo, please see:
Heart & Halo Good Food Bar
Shop 4/14 Middleton Street
(Corner of Byron Street & Middleton Streets – underneath the Budget Motel)
Byron Bay NSW 2481
Ph: 02 6685 6685
Special thanks to Tusta & Christie for making this happen.
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