It’s more likely for chefs to want to smack an author of food. However, I’m able to declare that, in this case, it was the other the other way around.

I’m currently at The Fighter’s Club in Central, Hong Kong, a premium one-to-one, high-end boxing, as well as Muay Thai gym. And – without any boxing background in any way I’ve been invited to compete against the chef Olivier Elzer, even getting the chance to strike a handful of punches to his base at times.

There’s a reason why the chef-in-chief of Michelin-starred L’Envol at L’Envol at the St. Regis Hong Kong hotel and the chef behind the slick French eatery Clarence in SoHo has chosen to be an ax to a handful of food journalists.

Anyone who has watched Elzer’s journey through Hong Kong over the years has realized that he’s one of the industry’s most prominent advocates for personal fitness. Elzer works out twice per day, working out early in the morning before doing boxing, strength training, or cardio after the lunch service. He strives to get sleep at 10.30 pm each night to be fully charged for the day ahead.

Chef Olivier Elzer is a fitness lover who trains every day. Photo: Clarence

It could be out of step with the lifestyle that a professional chef leads, specifically one who is a part of the world of fine dining. In reality, the field is known for its late-night hours and high-calorie, high-octane cooking. However, Elzer wants to change the notion that dining in luxury is not a synonym for healthy dining.

The menu that is keto-friendly just debuted at Clarence was created by keto expert as well as nutritionist Oliver Smith, co-founder of Ketogenic Asia. The principle behind the keto diet is to consume foods that are high in fats and have a small to moderate amount of protein with very little or zero carbohydrates. The concept is to have your body adjust to burn fats for energy.

How did Hong Kong put the head chef of Japan’s top restaurant “on the map.”

For this menu, it is possible to avoid bread courses because the menu claims to have less than 10 grams of carbs.

It is also said to clock at 1,088 calories. It costs the price of HK$988 (US$125) in order to enjoy five dishes, which include the signature “yakifrenchy” skewers (tandoori-spiced Chilean sea bass, baby squid cooked with shallot and spices, and pork pluma served with gribiche sauce). Another Elzer specialty dish, tuna seasoned with five spices and avocado puree, is featured as well.

Desserts are light and fresh with a heavy dose of berries and low-sugar sorbets instead of sweet and savory.

Tuna flavored with Keto, the five-spice blend, and avocado purée served at Clarence at SoHo, Hong Kong. Photo: Clarence

Skate wing cooked on Teppan with endives, as well as Comte salade in Clarence. Photo: Clarence

Elzer hopes to inform diners who are trying to shed weight that although exercising is essential and beneficial for your soul and heart, an important aspect is how much they’re eating.

“A number of people have misperceptions regarding diets. It’s great to exercise, but you don’t lose weight through exercise. It would help if you were deficient in energy,” claims Elzer, using the simple concept of expenditure versus intake. In order to effectively reduce weight loss, you have to burn the same amount of calories as you eat.

A typical tasting menu could be 2000 calories or even more. In 2010, a survey found that many fine-dining restaurant menus are at least 2,000 calories – a 10-course degustation from three-Michelin-starred Per Se clocked in at around 2,320 calories (2,590 if the diner opted for the wine pairing) while a beast of a menu from Chicago’s avant-garde Alinea restaurant that included 16 to 20 courses came in at 3,045 calories without wine.

The most recent daily advice of the Hong Kong Department of Health for a moderately active woman between 18 and 49 is 2100 calories. So it’s shocking to learn that a single extravagant meal could easily exceed the daily limit of calories.

Keto-themed Alaskan King crab legs, aubergine caviar, and tomato pulp from Clarence. Photo: Clarence

I, for one, don’t believe in the notion that there are “cheat meals” or obsessively tracking calories each day. Having a good dinner now and then is not a sign of a crisis, and less focus on how we judge each other, especially women’s bodies, would be an improved and positive outlook any time.

I am a person who loves working out every day and excellent food. This specific “food fight” experience for me was fun, however, and the food itself was a perfect illustration of high-quality ingredients prepared precisely and with purpose. If you hadn’t let me know that Elzer served the “keto” menu, I wouldn’t have been any more aware.