Interview with chef and food writer Anna Jones

Most people who love a plant-based diet are familiar with Anna Jones; a London-based cook, writer and stylist whose philosophy is to eat foods that put healthy ingredients at the heart of every recipe. She is highly regarded for bringing a modern twist to vegetarian and vegan cuisine, making vegetables the star of the show with bold flavor combinations. She is also revered for her commitment to educating her readers on how to become more environmentally conscious when it comes to cooking at home.

We spoke to the pioneering cook and writer before her class Vegetarian cuisine departure. According to Anna, the course teaches you: “how to put vegetables at the center of your table, and cook in a way that is both good for you and for the planet”.

We caught up with Anna about her approach to flavors right now and how the meaning of cooking has changed over the past year.

How did the kitchen become a place of comfort for you during the pandemic?

During the first confinement, we lived with my parents and our family meals together became the highlight of our day. We bought a small pizza oven so we had a lot of pizzas in the garden. On weekends I would like to mix things up and pretend we are in a restaurant cooking something fancier to make the meal more of an occasion.

Has cooking taken on a different meaning for you since the start of the pandemic?

I’m experimenting with many more flavors from all over the world which has had varying success with my five year old son! I have looked at different cultures where I don’t know much about food and have discovered some interesting new flavor combinations. This meant that I cooked a lot more from other people’s cookbooks, which I don’t normally do, and found that the structure of an unfamiliar recipe and something to follow became a comfort. However, more than ever, we are also eating simpler meals that also evoke childhood memories.

Has the last year changed the way you think about food for good?

The value I place on food has definitely changed. At the start of the pandemic, when we couldn’t get basic items like eggs and flour, it really brought to light the delicacy of our food system. It got me thinking about how many pieces of the puzzle there are to put food on our plates and how many human beings it takes to grow everything, transport, sell, and package everything.

I now have a better appreciation for the people who spend their lives putting food on our plates. We used to shop on autopilot and assume it will still be there, but now we know it isn’t.

What are your favorite dishes at the moment?

My XO sauce recipe in my new book A: Pot, Stove, Planet hits all the flavor points. I’m into big, punchy flavors right now because I missed other people’s food and the different flavors they could use. I also miss discovering new flavors while traveling, so I recreate them myself.

anna jones

What are your top tips for being environmentally friendly in the kitchen?

Don’t get hung up on what you’ve done in the past and feel guilty about what isn’t possible for your family or your life situation. Do what’s doable within your budget and timeframe, like trying not to waste everyday items like bread and milk and only buy them when needed. Plus, putting plants at the center of your diet is of course something that is scientifically proven to help the environment and it’s no surprise that I’m a strong advocate for this measure.

The use of energy is usually not discussed when talking about an environmentally friendly kitchen. Often times, recipes will tell you to turn on all the hobs, all the ovens, and use all the gadgets, so make recipes that focus on the simplicity of one device instead. This simplification of the cooking process will not only have a positive impact on reducing our environmental energy, but also our human energy!

When you buy ingredients, are there specific places where we should buy them?

The reality for many people is that they shop every week in a supermarket, so try to be an active shopper by doing so. This means questioning where the produce comes from, knowing where the fruits and vegetables have been grown and buying as locally as possible, or buying from companies that are trying to reduce their packaging. If you have the opportunity to go to a farmer’s market, do so. For me it’s as good as it gets, I like having a conversation with someone straight from the source. However, you can make a difference wherever you shop, it’s just a matter of being informed.

Anna jones

What is your replacement for stretch film?

I am a big supporter of beeswax wraps, there is a great way to A on how to make your own which is very economical. I also save my past takeout containers for reuse later, rather than spending the money on new plastic containers. However, often the good old-fashioned method of a bowl with a plate on top works best.

What do you think people will want to learn about cooking after the pandemic?

In the past, people felt like they had to trust a recipe. Over the past 18 months, I think even previously nervous cooks have gone beyond that and become more confident in adapting a recipe by swapping and swapping ingredients they have on hand. People use their brains and engage more creatively with food and see a recipe as a flexible template that they can tweak and make their own.

The Vegetarian Kitchen: A Guide to Modern Cooking with Anna Jones, costs £ 127 and is available from June 10 at Create Academy. BOOK NOW

Un: Pot, Pan, Planet, Anna Jones, £ 16.93

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