Private and Retreat Chef

Tofu, Ginger, Garlic Stir Fry, Hearty Lentil and Vegetable Soup, Gourmet Guacamole, Pineapple Salsa, Cherry Tomato Salsa, Homemade Hummus, Vegan Rocket Pesto, Avocado Boats, Sushi Rolls, Hearty Bean Stew…

The ingredients and cooking methods I use enhance the natural flavour of foods to make meals which are naturally nutritious and delicious. 

sushi tableI cook for people who follow a diet free from animal products and I specialise in catering for specific diets, like those free from gluten, sugar and even garlic and I am influenced by wholefood, macrobiotic, ayurvedic and raw food cooking styles.

Summer Lentil Salad, Aromatic Vegetarian Chilli, Black Bean Chocolate and Chilli Stew, Butternut Squash and Coconut Curry, Vegetable and Kidney Bean Crumble, Lentil Shepherdess Pie, Tarka Dahl…

I have worked with a wide range of people as a Private Chef – families with a wide range of intolerances including sensitivities to dairy, gluten, chocolate and vegetables from the Nightshade Family – tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, potatoes etc. I have also cooked for people on a weight loss programmes on a one-to-one basis and for large groups on numerous Retreats, on outside catering contracts and for Supper Clubs with more than 50 covers a night and at festivals serving 3000 meals each weekend.

Through my contact with macrobiotics I have cooked for people with Lyme Disease and Cancer. I have followed strict recommendations prescribed to them by their nutritionists and health advisors. This always included a diet free from most animal products and refined sugar and always included the use of organic and seasonal food.

Seaweed Stuffed Mushrooms, Nut and Lentil Burgers, Sundried Tomato and Olive Polenta Cakes, Baba Ganoush, Buckwheat Galettes, Nut Tzatziki, Moroccan Tagine, Basil Ratatouille…

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Cooking Style

There are a few principles that I like to stick to when cooking. Fresh is best and so I don’t use any processed foods instead I like to prepare and make all my own ingredients including gluten-free flour blends, pickles, sauerkraut, dressings, sauces, stocks, condiments, sugar-free jams, marmalades and chutneys, gluten free crackers, pastries, pasties, pies, bread, homemade tofu and homemade artisian chocolates. I have also experimented with smoking my own nuts and tofu.

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My experience is that refined white sugar can be unbalancing to the body as it is so heavily processed  – it gives many people a sugar rush followed by a sugar crash. Being thrown to extremes like this can be quite unbalancing and often results in people reaching for more sugary foods to get out of the sugar crash – and so an addictive cycle ensues. I choose to use more interesting alternatives to sugar – ones which bring a more diverse range of textures and flavours to recipes, and are far more nutritionally and energetically beneficial – like rice syrup, apple juice concentrate, dried fruits, coconut palm sugar etc

Cooking Well Balanced Meals

I enjoy making dishes with a range of flavours and I am particularly interested in creating balanced meals through textures by using toasted seeds, pickles, sauerkraut, salads, condiments and garnishes.

Tamari Toasted Seeds, Chilli Nuts, Date Ladoos, Sundried Tomato Drizzle, Mexican Bowl, Tofu Stack, Tri-Colour Quinoa Salad, Miso Soup, Brushetta…  

I strongly recommend using organic, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. Choosing foods which are locally grown help the body maintain natural balance within its environment, which includes the season we are in and also the country. In the UK there is an abundance of hearty, warming, nourishing root vegetables in the winter which is generally what satisfies our constitution in the colder darker months. 

Power BallsA well balanced meal contains the correct proportion of grains, vegetables and proteins, and a good combination of flavours and tastes to satisfy the senses. This may include the correct proportion of salty, sour, sweet, bitter, savoury and even bland tastes. When the correct combination is achieved a person should feel satisfied without having cravings for other things after a meal. For example a person with a sweet tooth may want to include more roasted root vegetables into their diet, as well as soaked grains like rice to appease between-meal sweet cravings.

Some people may also find it useful to follow food combining principles which combine foods according to their food group – carbohydrates, proteins, fruits and vegetables. For example, they may avoid eating carbohydrates and certain proteins at the same time and only consume fruit when eaten alone. This may not be necessary for everyone but for people who are trying to lose weight and for those with digestive problems this may help with the full and proper absorption of each food group. Let me explain the theory behind this – fruits are digested quicker than other foods and if they are eaten with other food groups it may cause digestive problems. Another tip for people with digestive problems is to have a thin soup or broth before the main meal – it gets our digestive system ready and I found this really helped with my own digestive problems and getting over my intolerance to gluten. It also helped me not to drink before or while eating as this dilutes the stomach acids. My digestion also improved dramatically when I stopped eating a big meal in the evening – I found that my digestion was stronger at lunchtime. 

Yoga and Meditation Retreats

The dishes below are an example of meals suitable for a ‘sattvic’ diet, as it may be referred to in ayurvedic cooking. It describes a ‘yogi diet’ or one that promotes clarity of mind and balance and is free from heating and pungent foods like garlic, onions, leeks, chilli and ginger. It contains foods with more neutral energetic qualities and blander subtler tastes. It would be excellent for spiritual retreats or people practising meditation. The meals contains plenty of well cooked hot food which is easy to digest. The main meal may also be eaten in the afternoon to allow more time during the day for the body to digest the food. Whenever possible I use a Kombu (Sea Vegetable), Shitake Mushroom Stock and miso to increase consumption of highly beneficial nutrients and minerals. I can cater for all special requirements depending on the nature and aims of the retreat.

Macrobiotic Meals

 – Creamy Spinach Buckwheat Galettes with Marinated Tempeh and Adzuki Bean Stew

– Tofu Tempura with Cauliflower Rice, Pressed Pickles and a Seaweed, Carrot & Beetroot Salad

– Indonesian Gado Gado with Gomasio condiment served with homemade Corn Tortilla Flatbread

– Kicharee – a One Pot Meal of Mung Beans and Brown Rice with Steamed Broccoli and Pakoras

 – Shitake Mushroom & Miso Risotto with Peas Sauce and Crispy Kale Salad

– Nettle Soup with Baked Polenta Triangles & Pesto and Creamed Fennel & Almond Sauce

– Thai Tom Ka Coconut and Cashew Curry served with Wild Rice

 

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The ideas below show some examples of dishes for a family with children who are transitioning onto a healthier diet. The focus here is on a variety of healthy meals that look attractive and colourful and have a variety of textures. The children will be familiar with some of the dishes like veggie burgers, pasta, stews and pasties while I have also introduced some interesting new dishes – like the sushi and sea vegetable (agar) jelly. All the dishes are free from dairy products and eggs and so low in cholesterol. I have included tasty healthier alternatives to some clasic dishes, like my own egg free version of spanish tortilla.

– Homemade Cornish Pasties (Gluten Free) with Minted Broad Beans, Papas Bravas & Onion Gravy

– Vegetable Farinata – Italian Oven Baked Pancake with a rich Tomato Sauce and Kale Salad

– Moroccan Chickpea Tagine with Roasted Butternut Squash, Brown Rice and Fire Roasted Red Peppers

– Pasta Pesto with Artichokes, Olives, Sun Blushed Tomatoes, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Toasted Almonds and Asparagus

– Maki Rolls (Sushi) with Tamari Marinated Tofu Steaks, Arame Salad and Sesame Dipping Sauce

– Nut and Lentil Burgers with Red Onion Marmelade, Homemade Fennel Coleslaw and Polenta Chips

– Vegan Spanish Tortilla with Beetroot Marmelade, Steamed Greens and Fire Roasted Capsicum

And for dessert:

– Strawberry Agar Jelly, Berry Oat Squares, Canadian Pancakes, Chocolate, Almond & Polenta Cake

Health Considerations for Vegans

For all these animal free (vegan) diets I would recommend using plenty of nut and seed sprinkles and hemp and flax oil to get sufficient quantity of essential omega oils. It is also advisable to eat plenty of green leafy vegetables for calcium. Surprisingly almonds have a lot of calcium too – so almond milk is ideal and using almond flakes as a sprinkle on meals is great. Mushrooms, especially Portobello, are good for vitamin B’s.

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Vitamin B12

It is widely acknowledged that the vitamin B12 is very difficult to get from an animal free (vegan) diet. B12 is produced in the stomachs of plant eating animals and people eating animals then ingest it from them. There are some suggestions on the internet of plant based sources of B12 including nuts, mushrooms and even soil! I was also once recommended to take aloe vera by a nutritionist for my B12 intake. I am very much inspired by the work of Anne Marie Colbin who recommends Oats, Green Beans, Sea Vegetables and fermented foods like Shoyu, Tamari, Sourdough Bread, Miso, Tempeh and Brown Rice Vinegar.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any widely accepted plant-based sources of B12 by professionals. However, research on some long term vegans has shown that even though they don’t consume any animal products some of them have sufficient quantities of B12 in their bodies – which has lead some people to believe that some people can produce their own B12. However, a deficiency of B12 in the body can be very damaging and lead to very serious cases of nerve damage so I would not recommend experimenting with this unless you are checking your B12 levels regularly with blood tests. At the moment I am having mine checked every six months, and it looks like I will have to consider finding a source of B12 as my levels are dropping lower and lower.

Although I am very much against using any kind of vitamin tablets or supplements, at the moment, it seems to be the only way vegans can guarantee getting their recommending daily intake of B12.

Working Rates

Charges are £100 per day or £120 per day for retreats

I currently live in the UK but can travel anywhere.

Please contact me here about any enquiries.