Bettina’s Kitchen today encompasses culinary, yoga and mindfulness retreats, plant based cooking workshops, recipe development, food writing, the Retreat Chef Academy and cookbooks. In February we launched a giveaway competition for a chance to win an Allday knife and a signed copy of the 'Happy' cookbook.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Bettina and chat more about her story and plans post lockdown.
(Hugo): Take us back to the beginning. Where does your interest in the kitchen come from?
(Bettina): My original background is in the Hotel Industry. I have a BBA in Hotel Management & Business and studied in Switzerland, Ireland and Spain. However I was always in front of house. That background helped immensely when I got into the wellness industry in 2011 running my health retreats in Spain and later all over the world. Cooking has been a constant in my life. I have loved it right from the start and remember my first dish being pancakes when I was 6 years old. It is my daughters too now and a family staple on the weekends.
Despite my passion for cooking it did not become my career until my late 20’s - remember it is never too late to start working with your passion.
Cooking became a way of inspiring people to include and cook with ingredients that can sometimes be daunting. I wanted to show others how food could be inspiring, where it comes from and that cooking from scratch is the single most powerful thing you can do for yourself and your family. The retreats were my initial stage into spreading the message.
My lifelong passion for food meant I appointed myself retreat cook and my hobby quickly transformed into my career as a chef in plant based cuisine. From here, I specialised in gluten-free and free-from cooking, which formed the foundations of my cooking. I went on to study at the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy in Los Angeles to expand my cooking skills and knowledge and learn the culinary arts along with extensive travelling and discovering how other cultures cook and use plant foods. I started sharing recipes on Instagram and slowly but surely people wanted more and Bettina´s Kitchen was born.
Fast forward a few years and books. I am now living in the United Kingdom and my passion still very much lies in Plant Based cuisine. However I am keen to to include as much local and seasonal produce as possible and always focusing on making the vegetable the hero ingredient on our plates. Everything I do honours my own beliefs around food and wellness and aligns with my philosophies: that we should eat seasonally, locally and from farm to table as much as we can; we should support small businesses within our communities; we must use roots, shoots and all!
Cooking waste free is particularly important to me; and we must let our veggies do the talking – the best plant food is fuss-free, simple, easy, inexpensive and speaks for itself.
You have been leading the 'happy food' movement. How did this come about and how long have you been vegan?
The Happy Food movement to me is all about variety and sourcing fas locally as you possibly can and making Veggies sthe her on your plate. This all started out when I started cooking on Wellness Retreats as mentioned above. I also decided to go fully vegan and Gluten free for a long period of time on a personal level.
My cooking Ethos has stayed the same however on a personal level I now consider myself predominantly plant based and if I do have any animal based products the quantities are small and extremely well sourced with regenerative and sustainable being at the forefront of my choices.
How serious are the environmental impacts of meat consumption? What can we do?
I have an uncommon viewpoint on this. I do not think that its the animals causing the environmental impacts but more so the industrialisation of livestock (its us the people that are the issue) not the animals. To think that we can just remove animals out of the equation and think that the problem will go away is naive. They are very much part of the solution. The majority of our food system is industrialised. Which means scale is more important than the health of our seas, land and soil.
The question we should be asking ourselves is - is this good for the soil? For the earth? When buying something. I believe regardless of your food preference status - whether that be vegan or not. We collectively need to try and eat and consume as responsibly as I can. Support regenerative agriculture. Support soil health. Buy local seasonal produce. Support companies that are doing things right.
You are working on a new cook book at the moment, how has it been developing this in the middle of a pandemic?
Its been hard as its all about gatherings and celebrations! It's all done now so it's at a great stage where I will be able to share it with everyone soon! Also it's much needed during a time where we haven't been able to gather and or celebrate much.
It looks like you have the dream job. Do you have any advice for people wanting to do something similar to you?
Looks deceive! I LOVE MY JOB, don't get me wrong! But it is also filled with lots of failures, persistence and years of hard graft. Not to mention that there is no such thing as an off switch! My advice would be work with something that your truly passionate about so that you enjoy the ride!
Are you working on any other exciting projects?
Working on lots of exciting projects! Hoping to get my Retreat Chef Academy up and running in May - after a year of not being able too. Also taking my face to face workshops online which is exciting! As things open up again I am sure more things will appear! Other than that I am looking forward to launching the new book Celebrate!
What is your favourite knife in the kitchen? Currently yours!
How many knives do you own? Not too many - the few ones I own I love. I have a few special ones from Japan that I cherish !
You can follow Bettina's journey and all her delicious cooking over on @bettinas_kitchen. Thanks for reading!