On a freezing cold day in early December we caught up with plant based chef Bettina Campolucci over ginger tea at her home in Hampstead. After finding her work through a mutual marketplace: Wolf & Badger we decided to reach out and ask a few foodie questions of our own.From growing up in East Africa to living in Sweden and London, are there certain places that really inspire your cooking?
Yes, I'm very excited about seasonal and local produce in the UK or anywhere that I am. I love discovering new ingredients and I'm always very inspired by my travels. I most recently went to India and I go to Bali once a year.
What was the catalyst for writing your first book ‘Happy Food’?
After running wellness retreats and workshops for quite a few years as well as working with clients, my first book Happy Vegan Food is a collection of recipes that I still to this day cook on retreats and for clients. It's like a little retreat bible!
From wellness retreats and online courses to foraging Hampstead Heath, what is your absolute favourite part of your job?
The variety and the fact that I get to do so many different things on a weekly and daily basis. I love having my fingers in many different pies (excuse the pun!) I've recently been working with a more private clients working on bespoke experiences which I've absolutely loved.
Your food always looks so pretty from your IG feed to your curated cookbooks. Is this a part of your own creative process or simply because 'we feast with our eyes first?'
Both! We definitely feast with our eyes first but it's equally important that what is in front of us looks really pretty and tastes really good!
One food you personally wouldn’t want to live without?
Toast! It's the perfect vessel for sweet or savoury and I'm a rule breaker when it comes to toast toppings, more is more!
The most misunderstood plant based food?
Beans. They have such a bad reputation but when cooked properly they are a great source of protein and can be absolutely delicious.
What makes your Dahl 'so damn sexy?'
I love a creamy dhal rather than a watery one and the best bits are the crunchy, spicy bits that I use as toppings.
What are your favourite plant based autumnal foods?
Pumpkin, cavolo nero, leeks, pears, citrus fruits, apples plums, figs
At the emilyandfin office we LOVE breakfast bowls from different granolas to porridge, with the cold really kicking in, what would you recommend for a warm breakfast?
If you haven't had savoury porridge before I urge you to give it a go. There's a great recipe in my 2nd cookbook 7 Day Vegan Challenge, the savoury oat porridge topped off with sesame seed oil and some lovely tamari soaked kale, that is absolutely delicious!
With party season approaching, what would be your ultimate dinner party dish?
Oh I have the perfect answer for this question - my third cook, Celebrate, Plant-Based Recipes for Every Occasion.
There's a great chapter in there called Dinner at Mine where all my dinner party favourites are available. There is also the Christmas and New Year chapter where you will find hero plant-based dishes that will make any festive table look great.
Any cosy drinks you would recommend to our audience for the colder weather?
Yes, it has to be chai! In my book Happy Vegan Food there's a delicious one. It's full of my favourite spices - cloves, cardamom and spicy ginger!
What kind of clothes spark joy for you?
Comfortable but with an edge, and always the added addition of being sourced sustainably.
Is there a synergy between yourself and Emily and Fin pieces/style?
Yes, I love their cuts and the cool unique styles which mean you can be comfortable yet stand out and be stylish. I often get comments when I wear my emilyandfin styles.