If you're looking for some veggie inspiration, look no further. Alice Kabala, the Chef at Great Shelford and food blogger, creates delicious, seasonal and healthy recipes. Feeling fancy and want to get in the kitchen? Check out her blog at Thoughtful Forkfuls. Haven't got the time but have a growling stomach? Come to the Great Shelford studio to try a super yummy meal. Carry on reading for a quick insight into Alice...
What inspired you to become vegan?
A: I’ve been a vegetarian since I was about 6 or 7, and then when I moved out from home I started thinking more about the sort of impact that our diets have on animals, the planet, and different people. Vegetarianism started to make less sense to me because animals are still intensively farmed for the dairy and egg industry, and if I wanted to be an ambassador for animals and think of animal welfare, then I thought that I should go completely vegan. I also studied environmental science at university so that allowed me to become more aware about food sustainability and food security, and again choosing a lower impact dietary choice on the planet just seemed to make sense to me. It’s the amount of meat that we are eating all over the world that isn’t sustainable, and anyway which we can all help individually is very important.
What does a typical day, food wise, look like for you?
A: I snack quite a lot and frequently so I eat smaller amounts. Also, because I’m in the kitchen, I’m often tasting throughout the morning so when I get to lunch I’m not starving hungry. I usually start the day in Winter with porridge, but I’m feeling less like that now. I’ve actually started to become a green smoothie person which I never thought would happen but I like to throw in nuts, oats, different fruits, chia seeds, mint – different things just to make it more exciting. I will tend to choose healthy snacks, like carrots and hummus, dried fruit, those kinds of things. For lunch I will eat soup or a salad, whatever I’m making that day, and then for dinner again just something that’s different to the other meals I’ve had because I try quite hard to have a varied diet, so things like curry, stir-fry, fajita wraps, all different kinds of things.
Do you have any foodie inspirations?
A: I like Yotam Ottolenghi - he has some really interesting recipes for vegetarians and vegans. I generally admire and respect all of the big foodies out there who are advocating a more plant based diet. I think they’re very important in terms of glamourising veganism. Someone like Jamie Oliver who’s done loads of work with school meals and factory farming helps to raise awareness of these issues - whilst also being a very likeable character it really helps in terms of getting that message out there. In terms of specifically vegan chefs, I tend to use a lot of food blogs – sometimes the best recipes are from people who aren’t well known, but who have just set up a free blog.
What’s your go-to comfort food?
A: I like things in tortilla wraps, like falafel and hummus wraps or just beans and guacamole, because it reminds me of street food and being at festivals and I really love that way of eating. It’s messy and fun and good for a group of people for a more casual setting.
How did you come to work at Camyoga?
A: I was still finishing my degree and I was looking into what career I might go into and I originally wanted to stay within the field of food sustainability, but my main passion was cooking and I thought it would be great if I could do this for a living, whilst promoting a more sustainable way of eating if you’re cooking and people are enjoying it. So I just looked for job adverts online and found this one. I didn’t think there was a chance of getting it because I hadn’t had any professional kitchen experience but I applied, bought some falafels to the interview which went down well and I got the job.
Have you got anything you’d like to add to the menu in the future?
A: Not specifically, but I do like to challenge myself and try new things. I don’t tend to plan as such, I like to cook with the seasons, for example getting a vegetable box with the best veggies from that week locally, and being forced to create something with just those ingredients. We have these herbs that one of our clients brings in and they change weekly so we don’t know what we’re going to get. It’s nice to think, oh wow, we’ve got this so I’ll make that, and that sort of thing.
What makes you happy?
A: Listening to music, eating food, and being with the people I love of course.