People Behind The Food: Tom Hunt

This week on Veggie Option, we're featuring award-winning chef, food writer, Guardian columnist, cookbook author and sustainable food expert, Tom Hunt. Tom co-owns a small restaurant called Poco in Bristol, which was awarded the most sustainable restaurant in the UK in both 2016 and 2018. Tom's food prioritises people and the environment as well as working towards a fair global food system. Read more about Tom and his style of cooking and food philosophy below.


Can you tell us a bit about your work and why plant-based ingredients are important to you and your work?

  I believe in a fair food system that we can all support through purchasing and growing food with care for the environment. Good agro-ecological farming practices that help regenerate the local (and global) ecology and wildlife. Food produced by this fairer food system is more costly than the cheapest processed foods, it also takes skill and time to turn it into a great meal. My work is communicating how these delicious, environmentally friendly and nutritious foods can be easy and affordable to cook through an approach to food which I call Root to fruit eating. Root to fruit eating means eating for pleasure, eating whole foods (in their entirety) and eating the best food you can. It is a plant-focused whole food diet, that focuses on the personal and public benefits of eating local-seasonal, organic and naturally farmed fruit and vegetables.

Why do you think it is important that we, as a society, change our eating habits to include more plants?

For our own health and the health of the environment. Plant focused diets are proven to be amongst the most healthy, lowering our risks of contracting non-communicable diseases, which are currently at epidemic proportions. Industrial animal agriculture is particularly harmful to the environment. Organic vegetable agriculture and even more natural farming methods such as Biodynamic farming (certified by Demeter), Permaculture and livestock free vegan agriculture without animal inputs (such as animal fertiliser) is a good environmental choice that done properly can regenerate the environment.

What 3 plant-based ingredients can you not live without?

I’m partial to all ingredients and love the changing seasons and availability of produce, so this is a hard one for me to answer. In which case I will go for three staples which I use frequently in the kitchen throughout the year. Extra virgin olive oil for its health properties and flavour, spelt grains for making into flour and baking nutritious whole grain bread and the humble onion because of its versatility and necessity.

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?

When you’ve got seriously good produce I love nothing more than the simplicity and deliciousness of steamed vegetables served with extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. There’s no such thing as a bad meal just bad diets right? So any treat goes as far as I’m concerned but I would avoid eating processed food on a regular basis.

What is your go-to cafe/restaurant for an inspired veg-focused meal?

Damian Clisby’s new Petersham Restaurant in Covent Garden called La Goccia. We had the most incredible vegetarian family meal their the night before our wedding.   AND, stay tuned for one of Tom's delicious recipes that puts a brand new twist on a plant-based staple.