Luna & Fennel
Leanne Masi is the brains behind Luna & Fennel - a small, independent food company, making cauliflower crust pizzas. Plant-based, gluten-free and 100% natural, these unique pizzas were inspired by Leanne’s Italian heritage. Leanne’s recipe has been trialed and developed through supper clubs, street food and catering opportunities - the resulting pizzas are good for your gut, and totally delicious. Luna & Fennel will be available to buy ready-made from Planet Organic stores around London from April. Leanne was one of the amazing chefs that launched our Food For Thought collection at Plant Hub, where we shared whats going on in the food world and allowed our guests to taste the change too! The pizzas went down a storm and come highly recommended.
Luna & Fennel are actually in the middle of Kickstarting to expand their exceedingly tasty range and step up the business - with a load of amazing rewards to choose from. We picked Leanne’s mind about this exciting time and to get to know Leanne’s background.
Your Italian roots have had a big impact on your brand, did your family cook gluten or dairy free/ where did that aspect come from? From personal experience it is hard to find gluten free pizza and pasta in Italy, it doesn’t seem as common as in British restaurants, where most places offer at least one or two options!
My family never intentionally cooked gluten-free until a few years ago when my sister developed a gluten sensitivity - I don't even think we knew what gluten was before then! The dairy-free aspect is purely based on my decision to start eating a mostly plant-based diet, which was around the same time I started Luna & Fennel. There are so many tasty dairy alternatives these days too.
As for options in Italy, Italians are very traditional, especially when it comes to food so it’s unsurprising that the range of free-from alternatives in Italy aren’t as common as they are here. Last time I was in Rome a couple of years ago I did see quite a few restaurants offering gf pizza, but certainly in the south where our family is from if you asked for a dairy or gluten-free pizza I think the majority would laugh at you!
What is your favourite dish? (do you have a recipe?)
Favourite dish has to be simple, fresh pasta - my favourite is spaghetti with olive oil, capers, chilli and lemon zest. It's heaven! My boyfriend and I have recently discovered the joy of making fresh, homemade pasta too - such a fun and satisfying dinner to make, a winner for dinner parties too - I highly recommend!
The vegan world is becoming much more accessible to the everyday consumer - something that used to really have a reputation of lacking taste, has become something popular to anyone with the afterthought of AND its vegan… What do you think has caused this shift in perception?
People are more well informed nowadays about how to cook veggies well and be creative with them. It’s very easy to cook vegetables badly but with a bit of knowledge they really do become the stars of the plate. Instagram and the rise of recipe sharing online has had a big impact in showing this to as many people as possible. Plus all the interesting binding and thickening agents such as flaxseeds, agar agar and aqua-faba are a real game changer! It’s all about awareness and showing people that these things aren’t difficult to use, you just have to know how.
What are your personal pet hates about Vegan cuisine?
Smashed avo on toast being the only option on a menu - especially in London which is at the forefront of the vegan food scene in the UK. Or people assuming you are choosing vegan because it’s trendy.
One of the options on the Kickstarter is a private supper club, which are becoming exceedingly popular - have you hosted many before and what was there any particularly inspiring ones?
Yes! That’s actually how Luna & Fennel started in Berlin - I did a year of supper clubs, changing recipes according to the season. It’s hard work to organise but so worth it - I love hosting people and it was a perfect way to test the product and build the brand. The most inspiring one was when I joined forces with my friend Jess from the vegan food blog Wholy Goodness - I was a secret admirer until she came to one of my supper clubs and we ended up becoming good friends! It was more fun teaming up with someone and we got to learn a lot from each other so that one definitely sticks out in my mind.
If Gung Ho was a pizza, what would we be?
Great question! A wonky veg pizza of course! I would roast all the delicious wonky veg I could find and finish with a squeeze of lemon, vegan parmesan shavings and truffle oil. Colourful, kind and creative :)
So, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or somewhere in the middle, looking for ways to sneak more veg into your children's diets, sensitive to gluten or dairy, love pizza but sometimes wish it was healthier, or just think the products look damn delicious - please think outside the pizza box and give Luna & Fennel a chance to disrupt the retail market.
Check out their kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lunafennel/luna-and-fennel
Leanne wears our Protein Dress featuring different plant based protein sources, a question that many veggies and vegans get on the regular!