Rachel De Thample – Our Food Hero Of The Month

In this heart of this unpredictable August, we find ourselves with a brand spanking new ‘Food Hero Of The Month’! The ALLOTINABOX team are extremely privileged and overjoyed to announce it’s the lovely Rachel De Thample.

Rachel de thample chef
Rachel De Thample via Abel & Cole

Rachel was one of the first supporters of what we do here at ALLOTINABOX, and someone we have been talking to for a while so we are very happy to have her featured on our blog. Our first point of contact with Rachel was via twitter where we engaged in some great conversations about food and growing your own vegetables, we like to keep our facebook and twitter open for as much community conversation as possible so if you fancy a natter head over to our – Twitter & Facebook.

A little bit of a background on Rachel for you, she currently turns her hand to all the delicious grub that produced and sourced for our great friends at Abel & Cole. As Food Editor she writes weekly seasonal recipes and also has a say in which food buyers to look at with ethical aspects of sourcing food at the forefront. With previous experience working in top kitchens, including Marco Pierre White, Heston Blumenthal and Peter Gordon. She has been a busy bee writing on food issues for over a decade including Waitrose Food Illustrated for five years and contributed to two Borough Market Cookbooks: Meat and Fish.

Rachel De Thample recipe
Rachel De Thample Tagliatelle via Lovefood

Also Rachel has a fantastic book titled Less Meat, More Veg’, which was published in January 2011 and already, seen some great reviews.  We love the book here and try to use it as much as possible. When we have a fresh harvest it really is an ideal cookbook to have on your shelf. Just check out this lovely De Thample dish via Love Food.

So here they are, our five questions to the lovely lady herself. Rachel is really inspirational and somebody we really admire, so I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

1) You worked with some great chef’s, and it must of been a great food journey! Personally what’s your favourite food highlight?

The Fat Duck tops the list. I did a very short stint there – basically I wrote an embarrassingly gushy email to Heston about how much I admired his work. I then got an email from Ashley Palmer-Watts inviting me to come in for a trial. I was offered a job but I was in my second round of interviews for another job (Commissioning Editor of Waitrose Food Illustrated), so I turned it down, which I now regret!

I’ve had a few meals at the Fat Duck since but my favourite experience was in the kitchen. It had a vibrant atmosphere. I got to try everything: white chocolate buttons topped with caviar, the famous bacon and eggs ice cream, quail jelly… I learned a lot in a very short space of time.

2) What inspired you to write your book ‘Less meat more Veg’?

A BBC documentary called The Future of Food. The programme delivered two stats that struck me: ‘we eat twice the amount of meat we need’ and ‘we only eat half our recommended portions of fruit and veg’. They’re clearly linked.

I had already been thinking about my own meat consumption and wanted to cut down. Writing the book was a great way to explore the subject and to come up with recipes that both trimmed meat consumption and increased veg intake.

There’s a big push for people to go vegetarian but the idea really freaks some people out (my husband, for instance – and my Texan mother!). I wanted to write a book that would encourage people to cut back without giving up meat completely. In my mind, if you source meat well (i.e. grass-fed and preferably organic) and you only eat small amounts of it, your diet can be healthier and greener than a vegetarian diet based dairy or eggs from intensive farms.

3) We understand that you also love growing your own! How has this journey been for you? any obstacles?

I’ve had some fun obstacles, one being that I live in a garden-less flat. Over the past few years I’ve grown herbs and tomatoes in my kitchen but this year I decided to take a gardening plunge. I vowed to grow my entire Christmas dinner. I’m still looking for someone to host my turkey but so far, I have a good lot of veg swelling in the ground: carrots, Swedes, parsnips, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, various cabbages, beautiful herbs.

I’m even growing the spices I’ll use: fennel and saffron. I have some whopping chillies ripening in a pot in my kitchen and I contacted Mark Diacono (the River Cottage head gardener) who sells Szechuan peppercorn plants. Sadly, they won’t produce pepper this year but the project is going rather well so I may just do the Christmas dinner thing again next year. It’s been a brilliant way of throwing myself into gardening.

Lemon preserve
Don't Get Lemon just add salt and preserve like Chiot's Run

For help on how to preserve Lemon head over to Chirot’s Run.

4) What’s your favourite thing about growing your own, and what’s your favourite/most successful thing you’ve grown?

I love growing from seed. I have two window boxes full of alpine strawberries, which are currently flowering and fruiting. It took the seeds ages to germinate. I don’t have a propagator (no room, and I’m trying to be frugal). I discovered a good tip: pop them on top of the fridge. The heat emitted from the fridge woke the seeds up within 24 hours.  I’m also smitten with my lemon tree, which sits in front of a window in my sitting room. It’s full of blossom and smells incredible.

5) You currently work for Abel & Cole, where you write weekly seasonal recipes, but whats your favourite thing to do with veggies?

One of my favourite recipes at the moment is cauliflower couscous. One of our veg buyers told be about it. Basically, you just chop a cauliflower into florets and whizz it up in a food processor (or vigorously chop it with a large knife) until it looks and feels like couscous. It’s brilliant and you can add all sorts of things to it: spices and seeds, blue cheese and walnuts, herbs and chilli oil.

WOW amazing response from Rachel love chatting to these inspirational foodies. If you think you can be a ‘Food Hero’ please give us a shout, if not get online and grab your own ALLOTINABOX and start your journey to becoming a ‘Food Hero’.

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