International Women's Day: Lauren Lovatt

Gung Ho is committed to showcasing bad ass gals who have something to say. Our launch party saw 12 fabulous foodies, chefs and influencers model the collection, whilst serving their signature canapé. We will be catching up with all 12 fabulous foodies, and some of the other wonderful people involved, in a series of weekly blog posts so that you can hear more about all the inspiring things they are up to..

For the launch, we collaborated with Plant Hub, showcasing all they had to offer with a launch party, cooking classes, and a plant based supper club extravaganza! Lauren Lovatt is one of the founders of Plant Hub, and played a huge part in making this weekend happen.

Lauren not only hosted our launch weekend at her fabulous plant based venue - she was also one of our mega babe Gung Hoe models! She’s a plant based chef with a wealth of experience, having run vegan restaurant Asparagasm in the Cotswolds, and teaching at PlantLab Culinary, Matthew Kenney’s culinary school. Lauren can now be found cheffing up a storm at Plant Hub, and teaching the art of plant based cooking at Plant Academy, a vegan cookery school held within Plant Hub.

We caught up with Lauren, and asked her a few questions...

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What current changes in the food industry are inspiring you most?

Its amazing the huge shift in awareness, the interest in ingredients and sudden turning point in general curiosity for food. We have seen Plant Based food boom with the help of Veganuary and major movers and shakers inspiring the world to take plant food seriously. This is not just a trend, it’s a movement. There are plant based restaurants opening all over the world, major supermarkets bringing out new ranges, and and to see people flood to the streets to march for climate change and animal rights its clear this is a cultural shift.

I’m excited for the impact this has on the wider world. if we can shift our ethos as a nation, impact our health by eating more plants and do good for the environment it is huge. What is really great is its not only in food but in fashion and tech. Sustainability is at the forefront of conversation and although I’m aware it’s just a start, everything has to start somewhere.

When making the transition into a vegan lifestyle, what changes are the easiest?

For me veganism was such a natural thing, I’ve always disliked eggs, butter and not been big on cheese. After I was quite unwell I realised I was intolerant to gluten and dairy and also became very aware I wanted to nourish my body through the best foods possible. I was eating organic and not been hugely bothered about meat for some time.

I was living in the countryside at the time, far away from the ocean, so it didn’t make sense to have fish and as I was researching how I could enjoy the most goodness through food, I gradually became plant based. This new lifestyle unlocked a whole new world of ingredients, superfoods and plants. I became so excited about food that it was easy to just go for it and I’ve never looked back. I love plants, their endless creativity, dates and inspiration.

What factor/inspiration/person has the greatest influence on your recipes?

My recipes usually begin with a memory - something I want to recreate or a start I hope to express, then seasonal ingredients and wild foraged goodies finish off the dish. Last week I was hosting my Feed your Mind candy experiences inspiring better mental health through far out food. So an example of this is ‘Mushrooms and smoke’

On the surface you have pan fried mushrooms in cultured oat butter with wild leeks, there’s a burnt pine nut cream on a lightly spiced tortilla which has been smoked. But behind this there’s memories of smokey rooms, magical parties and an idea of never quite knowing what’s ahead. Each time the dish is different because of the season and last week we were lucky enough to have Fairy Bath mushrooms from Frome, Somerset, with their delicate red cups and light flavour bringing vibrancy to this earth offering.

I also look to my favourite chefs for inspiration Brian Luptak of Acorn Vancouver, Richard Buckley in Bath and Scott Winegard in LA. Also- many of my friends are amazing people in the industry - Joey O’Hare always with fresh ideas, Chef Chay-Ya who’s doing amazing things over in Oz and Jamie Raftery The Holistic chef over in Thailand. Seeing the ingredients they find with the way things are put together is inspirational.

What is one plant based meal you can’t get enough of and would encourage everyone to try?

Since living in La and NYC I’m obsessed with mexican food. I love perfecting my Tacos and Tamales and trying new ferments and flavour combos. But I know not everyone has corn massa and a taco press to hand, so an utterly British version would be  Buckwheat ‘Tacos’ with fermented sour cream and spicy kale.

Pancake Ingredients

One cup buckwheat flour, two cups water. large pinch salt

Pancake Method

Blend the water and flour. Pour into a glass bowl and leave covered with a plate in an ambient place overnight.

The next day there should be a few bubbles and the mix is ready to flavour as you wish (chilli, spices and herbs all go wonderfully in here) we then add a pinch of salt as they are acting as our taco. Heat a pan with a little coconut oil and cook until golden on each side.

Cultured cashew cream

Soak one cup of cashews for 4 hours until soft. Rinse really well then blend with 1/2 cup of water until silky smooth. Add one tbsp miso and blend again then leave in a covered bowl overnight beside your pancakes.

The next day taste the mix, if it need a bit more salt add a pinch and also 1 squeeze of lemon juice to taste.

Chilli Kale Ingredients

1 bunch kale, Tsp smoked salt, 2 tbsp olive oil, tbsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp chilli powder

Kale Method

Strip kale from the stems and wash. Massage for 5 mins all other ingredients until really well wilted.

Place 1 pancake on a plate, top with sour cream, kale, add sliced avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds. Enjoy like a taco…yum!

Gung Ho were lucky enough to take part in one of your cooking classes - How long have you been teaching cookery for and what made you go into it?

I had assisted Deborah Durrant for some years before and also used to work with Rob Rees teaching young children and adults with more severe mental health issues. On so many levels the impact cooking can have still amazes me and I’m always looking for new ways to help people do better through food.

I started teaching myself when I was running Aspasragasm - my vegan & gluten free restaurant in the Cotswolds. We had so many requests to hold classes that naturally we started to do exactly that. It began with special classes for groups of friends on request and then this led me to be asked to teach elsewhere. On closing the restaurant I was offered a Job teaching For PlantLab (Previously Matthew Kenney culinary) so joined the Barcelona academy which was when I really realised that teaching was my passion. Working with students from all over the world to realise their dreams was breathtaking. It is this sense of community and experiential learning I hope to bring to London through the Plant Academy.

One of your specialities are raw vegan desserts, does this mean there is such a thing as healthy pudding?

Sure does! For me raw desserts are a fantastic gateway into not only veganism but raw food. I would rival any regular cheesecake and bet most people would prefer the raw. The same can be said with ice-cream - as long is its done well.

Raw desserts were where this passion for supper clubs and experiences began - being able to create something laced with healthy fats, fibre and secret superfoods to serve to guests that because of the ingredients immediately changed the atmosphere and conversation I think is truly magic. My favourite at the Moment is my ‘Mind Candy’ dessert - ‘Dopamine’ which is a fermented walnut mouse with a carob and rosemary biscuit topped with blueberries, blackcurrants and cacao.