This week on Veggie Option we’re featuring Joey O’Hare, a plant-centric chef who, in her 10 year career has done it all, worked in restaurants, ran supper-clubs for which she was shortlisted for a YBF award, been on telly (and not just any telly, but BBC’s Masterchef the Professionals) and now has what sounds like a dream role as Senior Development Chef at allplants, a plant-based meal delivery service.
Joey trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and at Westminster Kingsway College and her style of cooking is very much influenced by her training; veg-centric and seasonal, with a particular focus on and fermentation. We talked to Joey about plant-based food and here is what she said.
Can you tell us a bit about your work and why plant-based ingredients are important to you and your work?
I first learnt to cook at Ballymaloe, a working biodynamic farm in Ireland; Ballymaloe has a truly authentic farm to table reality and gives one a holistic appreciation of food… seasonality, sustainability and provenance are fully part of learning how to cook. I’ve prioritised seasonal vegetables in my cooking and diet ever since. Following Masterchef Professionals I launched a veg-centric supper club called Hare on the Hill which was shortlisted for a YBF award in the vegetable category. Menus were directly inspired by weekly trips to Herne Hill Farmer’s Market where biodynamic and organic veggies from Kent where as fresh as can be! And I have recently started as Senior Development Chef for allplants, where plant-based ingredients are at the heart of what we do every day.
Why do you think it is important that we, as a society, change our eating habits to include more plants?
I’ve been hugely influenced by the book Eating Animals recently, but prior to this I was mostly inspired by the positive environmental impact of a plant-based diet, but this book shed light on the grave moral and ethical considerations of eating meat, particularly factory farmed meat. I think eating more plants and practicing more compassion would have a very positive knock-on effect in society.
What 3 plant-based ingredients can you not live without?
I love miso and/or tamari for adding awesome depth of flavour to so many soups, stews and marinades. And vegan kimchi is a total powerhouse, I put it on literally everything.
What is your all-time favourite plant-based dish to cook or eat (in or out)? And what types of dishes do you avoid, if any?
My favourite dishes tend to be generous seasonal salads, with lots of textural elements and a punchy dressing. I don’t avoid any dishes necessarily – I’ll try everything once!
What is your go-to cafe/restaurant for an inspired veg-focused meal?
Gauthier in Soho offers exceptional vegan ‘fine dining’. Alexis Gauthier was my first Head Chef when I started working in kitchens when I was 19.
AND, stay tuned to later in the week when we’ll be sharing one of Joey’s recipes, a delicious one-pot wonder, perfect for batch cooking and freezing!