Anjalina Chugani – chef, entrepreneur & author of Soul Spices

Since the recipe book Soul Spices came out in November 2016, Pescetarian Pleasures has seen Anjalina Chugani everywhere! We wanted to get an insight into what made this chef such a pioneer in cooking with spice!

The lovely Anjalina Chugani

Anjalina was born in London and moved to Bangalore at the age of 13. She travelled extensively and lived abroad until moving to Barcelona with her husband in 2000. A change in career path some years ago, led her to attend the renowned catering school (Hoffman school) where she learned the basics of French and Spanish classic dishes.

As you will see cooking has always been a big part of her family life, the kitchen being the centre of most of the homes she lived in growing up. Armed with the new culinary skills learned at the Hoffman school, she was ready to begin an exciting culinary journey of her own, leading her to be a kind of spokesperson for spice! Soul Spices was a labour of love that was 1.5 years in the making, but leafing through the colourful pages of unique recipes, we think it was worth the wait!

Anjalina works on recipe development for several restaurants here in Barcelona, who want to offer fresh dishes with an Asian slant. She says she loves listening to restaurants line of food and is quite intuitive about developing the dishes that they are looking for. As well as the cookbook she caters private events and runs masterclasses (teaching people to cook using spices). As she started to teach she noticed there were the same recurring questions around spice…where did she get them from, what should be done with them? The book was born out of this demand of knowledge. People wanted to know more!

You´ve been here for a while now, 16 years! What bought you to Barcelona in the first place?

My husband! We met in Bangalore, India where I lived… he was on holiday.. we met ( it was a semi-arranged situation).. and the rest as they say is history..!

Tell us about your first memories of food, was it an important event in your family?

Oh yes! Food was and is everything to us.. home cooking was always at the heart of all our gatherings.. I have such fond memories of watching my mum and my aunts in the kitchen, cooking up a storm.. and the kids, all of us running around and then enjoying every single morsel of what they cooked up… I come from a line of amazing cooks… My grandmothers were both stellar cooks… My paternal grandma taught me a thing or two, and those lessons have stayed with me..

Anjalina shopping for fresh, seasonal produce in Bangalore

So has cooking always been your passion? What led up to publishing Soul Spices?

I have loved watching people cook for so long.. I have always appreciated good food.. but cooking wasn’t something I did passionately.. I came into it a little late.. but once I discovered that I could actually do it, and do it WELL, I realised it’s what I wanted to focus on… the book came as a result of a few years of teaching cooking and finding that there was a gap and a void of info out there based on spices and Indian cooking…and basically I wanted to share my recipes…

Soul Spices is full of exciting recipes, are these dishes you´ve always cooked, or is your repertoire constantly expanding?

Yes, Soul Spices is filled with dishes I constantly cook  and ones that my mum has taught me, and ones that have come from family and friends… it’s REAL recipes… recipes that even a novice cook can have a go at… I am constantly developing new ones though too..

A Pescetarian Pleasures favourite, Goan fish curry, with rice

We like the fact that your book highlights the health benefits of spices. Do you think some modern diets are lacking spice?

The modern way of eating is now actually incorporating spices, slowly but surely, as they see the benefits and health boosts that spices contribute.. yes, spices are rare in everyday occidental cuisine but I do see this changing… hopefully, more people like us are out there spreading the good, spicy word!

As well as the book, you teach cooking workshops, and consult on recipe development. What else are you involved with at the moment?

There are other projects lined up… I always have a bundle of ideas up my sleeve! I still cater as well… but yes, there’s a lot going on all the time, which is great! You can always check the links on my blog, which tell you where I will be.

There are so many great new eateries and pop up dining events in Barcelona at the moment, it seems like the foodie scene is really thriving here. Why do you think that is?

The city has become experimental, which is great. The fear of the unknown is slowly disappearing giving way to new flavours and culinary cultures.. The Barcelona people are opening their minds and palates. It’s a combination of social media and the new generation… Instagram is exploding with foodies and the rise of the food truck has really helped.. it’s helped bring world flavours to the masses… which is great!

The colourful pages of Soul Spices

Who inspires you in the culinary world?

Gosh, so so so many people.. the great chefs of course like Massimo Bottura who not only are brilliant but they are socially conscious too.. the mums who cook fresh meals for their kids everyday… the independent little cafes and restaurants that work so so hard in their tiny kitchens to bring out fresh, good quality food everyday… the food writers and TV chefs who constantly show people how to cook delicious meals with simple, seasonal ingredients.. and India.. that country just inspires me so so much… everything about it!

Are there any emerging spices or ingredients that we will see a lot more of in 2017?

I actually think it’s been happening a lot since last year… Turmeric has been a star ingredient in the western world for months now ( I’ve been consuming it since I was born!)… I think Asian food is really taking over the scene… and not just Japanese or Thai… I think Vietnamese, Filipino and Indian will come more to the forefront… As long as we keep incorporating spice into our cooking, I’m a happy girl!

It was great to get the low-down from Anjalina Chagani, for more info head to her website

http://www.anjalinachugani.com/

(Photos by Sanjeev Nair and Jordi Domenech)

6 of the best Pescetarian Pleasure´s posts – from the first 6 months! – Pescetarian Pleasures

It´s totally nuts, but it´s been 6 months since I started Pescetarian Pleasures! And what a great 6 months it´s been! I hope you can tell, I really enjoy writing the blog, now even more than ever. I wanted to thank all of my followers, I hope you have got as much out of it as I have.

Incase you missed any of them, here are the 6 most popular posts so far….

1

Pescetarian Pleasures meets foodie entrepreneurs ´Bear on Bike´

2

The Joys of fish! Why become Pescetarian?

3

Blogging & Content Marketing – a Shaw Academy course review

4

Festive mince pies

5

Chasing heat! Char´s Sweet ´n´ Smoky Chipotle Salsa

6

Why Pescetarian Pleasures?

I hope you enjoyed the recap!

Being Pescetarian – 9 top tips for getting enough protein! – Pescetarian Pleasures

They say that becoming pescetarian can seriously improve your health! Being quite health conscious, I´m always aware getting enough protein in my diet. Protein is essential to build and repair tissue all over the body, including muscle, hair and nails. In fact every cell in the body contains protein, which is why it´s so important!

Between fish, seafood, pulses, nuts, seeds and dairy products there are plenty of options for the pescetarian. As long as you are aware of incorporating it into your meals, there is no reason to miss meat at all. Some people talk of struggling to hit the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of protein (50g for an adult according to the British government). The great thing for a pescetarian is that fish and seafood contain a high proportion of protein, which makes reaching your RDA much easier. For example…

  • 150g salmon fillet contains 35g of protein.
  • 100g mackerel fillet contains 19g of protein.
  • 100g king prawns contains 25g protein.
  • 100g cooked mussels contain 24g protein.

But knowing that most people don´t eat fish or seafood every day, we have to look at other sources of protein to consume. I support balanced, healthy diet and many years ago I drastically reduced the amount of rice and pasta I eat. Replacing rice with quinoa (full of vitamins, fiber, antioxidents and in itself protein rich) was a great help. I also made sure that if I am not eating fish or seafood, that my meal contains a good handful of seeds, cheese, tofu or eggs. This always helps to hit the target.

One big positive about eating a lot of protein is that it keeps you feeling sated (full) for longer, therefore decreasing hunger (in theory). Although it seems like I can always eat, at any time of the day! Compared to eating a carbohydrate rich diet  which can give you an energy spike, then crash, eating high protein should keep you going for longer. Some studies suggest people on high protein diets, consume around 200 calories a day less than others.

I don´t follow any diet or strict eating plan (which for me can suck all of the joy out of eating). But I do encourage being aware of eating enough protein.

Here are my 9 top tips for getting enough protein….

  • ´Go French´ and enjoy cheese after each main meal. Just be aware that some cheeses are very high in fat too, so it´s not an invitation to eat the whole cheese! Compare parmesan which is 42% protein and 28% fat to Cottage Cheese around 17% protein and 0% fat.
  • Carry a small tub of cashew nuts in your bag (instead of bag of crisps). 25g nuts gives you 5g protein. I eat a small handful of cashews every day (mainly because I love them, and the fact they are rich in protein and good fats!)
  • Eggs are a quick easy option, for adding protein to your meal. 3 Eggs gives you around 15g of protein. Just be careful not to eat too many (due to their high cholesterol content).
  •  A bowl with 50g edamame beans contains 6g protein. They make a great ´on the go´ snack.
  • 50g sunflower or pumpkin seeds is 10.5g protein. I sprinkle them whole over salads, breakfast cereal and stews. You can also grind them into a powder to thicken soups or smoothies.
  • Use quinoa as a substitute for rice, to acompany a curry or piece of fish. As mentioned before, quinoa is a complete protein containing all 9 amino acids.
  • Peanut butter, tahini and cashew butter are all high protein. Peanut butter on rice crackers make a light, easy protein snack
  • Make smoothies with yoghurt or milk, instead of fruit juice or water. A small glass of milk for example can add 5g of protein.
  • Beans and pulses contain more protein than other vegetables and are relatively cheap too. As a bonus they´re really high in fiber, so keep you feeling full, and regular. Add handfuls of lentils to salads and soups, make a big batch of hummus, tuck into kidney bean chilli, try your own falafel. Beans are so versatile, it should be easy to incorporate them into your diet.

Pescetarian Pleasures meets Barcino Brewers – Pescetarian Pleasures

Barcino Brewers began in 2011, on a rooftop in El Gòtico. It started with 3 friends, who were bored of the beers available, here in Barcelona. They brewed beers for themselves to enjoy and to supply their own bars at the time. It has grown and expanded since then and they now offer 4 different beers, named after separate neighbourhoods in Barcelona. They were around at the start of the craft beer movement here in Barcelona and have expanded to now sell in excess of 300,000 bottles of beer, across the city.

Read on, to hear a little bit of their story.

Before starting up Barcino Brewers, what lead you to Barcelona?

I was an english teacher and then eventually a bar owner. Then a Brewer.

Have you always been interested in brewing your own drinks?

Actually I had the idea to home brew cider when I was a teenager and sell it to my schoolmates. But that was more to make money and also to get high on my own supply. It was also illegal on about 4 different levels. Then I started brewing again here many years ago on my roof terrace and supplying just my friends and my own bar. It became really popular and so decided to brew commercially.

What made you think there was a gap in the market in this city?

Because Barcelona was behind everywhere else in Europe in terms of the craft beer trend (except for maybe France.) And because the food revolution here had begun to follow the same route as everywhere else so I saw no reason to think beer wouldn’t do the same.

The craft beer scene has really taken the world by storm recently, what is the concept behind your brand?

Simplicity.We have four non complicated craft beers that could be seen as introduction beers. We wanted to make beers we love ourselves and that made us start drinking craft beer in the first place. No scary ingredients like Brewers Beard hair and average to low alcohol levels.

Sometimes it seems there is a really silly attitude in the craft beer world that brewers should strive to make really weird experimental beers, and if someone doesn’t like them then they are ‘wrong’. A person can’t be wrong about taste. A person can be uniformed about ingredients and their health implications. But, presuming all craft beers care about using natural methods and ingredients as much as possible, then after that you have to respect the taste of the public. Its not punk music. Its food. Keep it simple.

Are people willing to pay a little more for a premium product?

So far yes. A person who is not willing to do that will not be interested in Craft beer in the first place. The problem will begin as craft beer gets more popular here you will get big investment products, like Brew Dog etc, that will come along and undercut the smaller guys with equally good product. This is not really avoidable.

Lots of foodie entrepreneurs are doing well in Barcelona at the moment, why do you think that is?

We need to be careful with that assumption. Lots of places are opening but also lots of places are closing. ‘Doing well’ is a term thrown around too much. In five years time the best places will survive, but I would estimate that will be about 25% of the ones that are ‘doing well’ now. It depends on the underlying motivation. Generally speaking, and there lots of exceptions, its a combination of luck and the underlying motivation of the person behind it. If the person genuinely sees a lack of something that they love they will make other people love it too. And there will be a buzz around it. Whereas if someone is just riding a wave of the next cool thing they will burn out and eventually disappear. Its tiring to try to keep up but its energizing to be in the lead.

With more people turning to distilling their own gin, and making their own wine, do you think we will see a rise in people making their own beer at home?

For sure. Its a good thing. It only makes businesses like ours sell more. Not the opposite. The more craft beer in the world the better.

 Any hot new ingredients to look out for in 2017? What can we expect to see from Barcino this year?

There are hops that become very fashionable like Citra did last year, and because of that popularity they become very scarce. Im sure there is a popular trends this year, like juicy IPAs or chili beers, but its not something that interests me terribly. This year we are moving into supermarkets and more non conventional craft beer sources and hopefully it will be the year where you get genuinely get a craft beer wherever you go in Barcelona. That was more or less our aim from the beginning. We will probably do a new beer in the summer but haven’t finalised it yet. In terms of food; something to watch out for, my good friends are doing smoked foods: fish, meat, everything. They are even smoking butter. Their project is called Rooftop Smokehouse. They are doing really interesting stuff, and I guarantee you will get a lot of copy cats smoking food this year.

 Check out their webiste http://barcinobrewers.com/en/

Photos by Iris Humm

Fish ´n´chips cookies (chocolate & chilli) – Pescetarian Pleasures

For me, chocolate and chilli is a great combination! I think they are 2 flavours which compliment each other nicely, and they taste great in this spiced cookie! The quantity in this recipe makes enough for around 50 cookies. So what are you waiting for, give them a try!

Ingredients:

350g plain flour

150g brown sugar

1 tbsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

175g butter, melted

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

4 tbsp maple syrup

1 egg

6 squares dark chocolate, finely chopped

3 dried chillies, seeds removed, finely chopped

pinch of salt

Method:

Sift together the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Pour in the butter, maple syrup and egg, and mix together until a firm dough is formed. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°. I usually cover my worktop in cling film, then lightly flour the surface. Roll out the dough, until it is about half a centimetre thick. Sprinkle over the chocolate and chilli and roll more, so the chips are incorporated into the dough.

Using a fish shaped cutter, cut out the cookies, and place on some baking paper on a baking tray. Gather up the offcuts and roll out again and repeat until all of your dough has been formed into fish cookies.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, take out of the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray. Ready to eat! Cute little fish cookies, spiced with ginger and chilli with chocolate chips.

I made a few batches, as I wanted to give them to guests as they left the Pescetarian Pleasures launch event.

Pescetarian Pleasures Launch Event

I´m so excited still, I feel like I could fly! Saturday 4th March we held a Pescetarian Pleasures launch night at El Casal Cafe, to celebrate the start of my great food adventure!

There were art installations on the night from the talented artist Lisa Rubin. She decorated the tables with a series of collages, all in keeping with the fish/fruits de mer/nautical theme.

Guests were welcomed with a glass of cava, from our favourite independent producers in Sant Sadurní. There was a little time to check out the collages and personalised place mats.

I took a few moments at the start of the night to explain the menu to our guests.

We laid on a 5 course seafood extravaganza, a true Pescetarian´s Pleasure! To start, we served a seafood bisque. This had an intense seafood flavour and was pepped up with lots of lemongrass and kafir lime too!

Next came the degustación of oysters. We imported oysters from 3 different growers in Normandy, which is arguably home to some of the best oysters in the world!

It´s fair to say, they slipped down really easily! They had been plucked out of the sea only a couple of days before, so were super fresh.

The degustatión of oysters was fun and we asked our guests for their feedback at the end of the evening.

As each oyster is grown in a different location, their flesh had slightly different quality, one was saltier, one firmer, etc etc.

Our connoisseurs had no problems differentiating between them!

Next came the hugely popular course of Steamed mussels in cream & cider sauce. Everyone´s favourite!

Then on to the main course, which was Sea bass papillote with a sweet potato gratin.

The sweet treat at the end of the night was Pavlova, classic, fresh and light, topped with seasonal fruits!

With everyone happily fed and watered it was time to bring out the rum I´d macerated with fruit. One was with pomegranate and the other (my firm favourite) passionfruit.

These bottles didn´t last very long!

It was so exciting serving 5 courses of my food and drinks to a room full of lovely people. We hope that this will be the first of many pop-up food events, here in Barcelona. Cooking for and hosting so many people was a real buzz!

All fantastic photos by Thomas Lefebvre

Pavlova – with seasonal fruits

The Pavlova is a tried and tested classic; always a lovely light way to end a meal. They say this dessert comes from Australia and you can imagine, with all that heat, the last thing you crave is a big, sticky dessert. My happiest memory of Pavlova was in a small Swiss village. It was served as the perfect finale after a massively satisfying (but filling) fondue session!

The great thing about this dessert is that you can use any fruit that´s in season, so the topping changes it´s appearance and of course the flavour combination. Some people find Pavlova too sweet, but I have quite a sweet tooth, so it always works for me! To make a lighter version, just omit the sugar from the rum cream mixture. The quantities shown here made enough for 8 individual desserts.

What you will need to make this dish

Ingredients:

1 mango, diced

1 banana, diced

4 kiwis, diced

15g dried goji berries

6 mint sprigs, shredded

1 lime, juice only

Meringue Ingredients:

4 egg whites

220g sugar

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tsp cornflour

Rum cream ingredients:

350 thick cream

70g sugar

70ml rum

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 lime, zest only

Method:

Preheat the oven to 120º. To make the meringues whisk the egg whites using a hand mixer, until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time and whisk each time, until the mixture is thick. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk quickly one last time.

Spoon out nest shapes of meringue mixture onto baking paper on a baking tray. The meringues will spread so leave room in between them to expand. Bake them for 1 1/2 hours until they are crisp. Turn off the oven and let them dry out as the oven cools down. They continue to cook in this time. If you take them straight out of the oven, they may end up chewy!

Meanwhile, whisk the rum cream ingredients, until it is thick (but don´t over beat it).

Mix the fruit and lime juice in a bowl

In a separate bowl, cut and dice the fruit and combine in a bowl with the lime juice and chopped mint.

Chars tip: Chop and add the mint at the last minute, otherwise it starts to go brown. Always save a small sprig to decorate the top.

Spoon the cream onto the meringues, top with fruit and serve straight away! The combination of lime, mint and rum, gives the dish a real mojito feel!

Fruit Pavlova is a tried and tested classic

Another alternative topping was mango with raspberry and blood orange. This time I served it with a blood orange coulis and Oreo dust.

This dessert can be topped in a number of ways!

Blood orange coulis

This post is a bit of a nod to my love of this fine fruit, the blood orange! I´m always super excited when they come into season, forgetting about how great they taste, they are just so damn good to look at! The deep crimson colour that seems to seep through to the outer peel, is even more enticing when you cut into it! See below, even the waste (the peel) is beautiful in it´s own right!

Lets talk about the flavour for a bit. Blood oranges have their own distinct flavour. Much sweeter than a regular orange, they have less of the sharp acidity of some of their citrus cousins (opposite end of scale to lemon or grapefruit). They truly are a wonderful thing!

Every year I make a big batch of blood orange coulis so drizzle over my desserts, yoghurt or breakfast cereal. It tastes great generously poured over buttered crumpets….but I´m digressing! You can use this for anything sweet really, I made this batch to drizzle over my recipe for Pavlova.

The general rule is to weigh the amount of juice you extract from the oranges, and add half the amount of sugar. Since they are quite sweet naturally I only use a third of the weight of sugar to juice.

Heat the juice and sugar for roughly 20 mins. When it starts to thicken I whisk in 2 tsp of cornflour, turn off the heat, and leave it to cool. Once cool, tip into a squeezy bottle (or jar or tub) and refrigerate until needed.

Sea Bass Papillote with Sweet Potato Gratin and Beetroot & Cumin Dip

Just the colours alone are enough to make you want to make this dish. You wait until you try it! This recipe is not heavy with carbs, and is light and delicate in every sense! The Sea Bass is delicately flavoured, then the garlickey sweet potato gratin is sweetened with coconut milk. The fish and gratin are served with a salad, then all this is complimented with the beetroot and cumin, spicy dip. We were hosting a dinner for 6, and this seemed like the perfect time to share this recipe with you!

What you will need to make this recipe

Ingredients:

6 Sea Bass fillets

5 sweet potato, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 red onion, finely sliced

250ml coconut milk

100g cheese, grated

2 carrots, julienned

1 courgette, julienned

3 beetroot, cooked

1 tsp Harrissa

200ml Greek yoghurt

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 lemon, cut into slices

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°. In a baking tray add layers of sweet potato, sprinkle with garlic, red onion and pour over about a quarter of the coconut milk. Repeat until you have used up all of the gratin ingredients. Add a hand full of grated cheese to the top and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes.

To prepare the vegetables, julienne the carrots and courgette so you have small batons, roughly the same size.

To make the papillote, remove the skin from each fish fillet. Cut a sheet of baking paper in half lengthwise, lay some carrots and courgette onto it. Place the sea bass fillet on top, and top with a slice of lime or lemon. Season each fillet with salt and pepper, add a drizzle of olive oil and wrap the papillote closed, by turning each end.

Fish cooked in papillote is steamed in the moisture creatid in the little parchment parcel. If it comes open, it won´t cook properly. For extra security, you can use a toothpick to ´sew´the 2 ends of parchment together.

To make the dip, blend the beetroot, yoghurt, garlic, Harissa and cumin seeds with a food processor. As usual, I like to keep a bit of texture in the sauce, but some people prefer it to be smoother.

We served the fish and gratin with a salad of rocket, artichokes and parmesan shavings, but a simple green salad would do. Of course serve with a big dollop on beetroot dip on the side.

Pescetarian Pleasures meets foodie entrepreneurs ´Bear on Bike´

Pescetarian Pleasures met Ella and Alberto recently. They started cooking together 3 years ago, hosting food events on www.eatwith.com and running their own cooking workshops. They are a truly inspiring couple and we had to find out more about their journey.

Ella and Alberto preparing to cater an event

One thing that comes across when talking to them is how important it is for them to convey their philosophy in their food. Their food style is still evolving and adjusts with the seasons, and when the inspiration takes them. In general it is Mediterranean cuisine which is accessible to people, but still inspiring and thoughtful. Sustainability and seasonality is key, with simple, local ingredients forming the base of most of their dishes. For them creating and producing these dishes should have minimum impact on the environment. Lets find out more about how ´Bear on Bike´ began…

We are always interested to hear peoples stories…where are you from and how did you end up in Barcelona?

I am from Melbourne Australia (Ella) and I came to Barcelona almost six years ago when I had just finished university. I knew it was time for a big shift and heading to the antipode of where I was felt pretty perfect. I had been studying Castellano and I had several catalan friends already here who made the transition really easy for me. I thought I would stay for a year or so and then move on.

I am from Thiene, a little town close to Venice, Italy (Alberto). Seven years ago I participated in a European voluntary service in Galicia and I fell in love with Spanish culture and food. After my return to Italy I was wandering between my home and Budapest and trying to finish my university studies until I couldn’t resist anymore and I decided to try a new adventure in Spain. Barcelona looked the best option for me and my passion for food.

We love the concept of Bear on Bike, how did it all begin?

It kind of began when we met. We had both been hosting events on the home-dining platform Eatwith.com after meeting the guys who were starting it in Barcelona. One of them convinced me (Ella) to do a singles night event at this great industrial loft in Poble Nou where I was living. I thought it sounded pretty cheesy but I got roped in and we invited a bunch of friends and other cooks. We hit it off immediately and a year later when we moved in together we chose a beautiful apartment in the Born where we could host dinners and cooking classes.

The more we cooked, the more we got to know our producers and we became really interested in the slow food movement. Seeing where the ingredients came from and meeting the passionate people who grow and produce them became as important and exciting to us as the end result. When we realised we were doing a lot of things and needed a name to put it all under, we chose the bear. Because we like the idea of a slow movement gaining momentum… and we really love our bikes.

What is your food philosophy?

Our food philosophy stems from our own interest in sustainability and green practices. We’re not about rules: we set ourselves challenges that we know help the earth, and enjoy planning and changing our buying and cooking habits to try and meet them. That means only buying what’s in season and available locally, from organic producers whose practices enrich the land they work. We avoid processed food, preferring to build things up from primary ingredients, and thereby avoid excess packaging and plastic. The new goal we have set for ourselves is working towards being a zero-waste kitchen. We’re still a long way off!

How important is seasonal and sustainable cooking?

An Italian philosopher once said that we don’t vote for our leaders at the election day, but every time we buy at the supermarket. If this is true, it is a chef´s responsibility to lead by example and show that good sustainable practice is not only possible, but more rewarding in its results.

Every time we buy, we make a choice: do we want to support global conglomerates who are squandering our resources, monopolising markets, underpaying employees and ruining the earth for future generations? Or are we willing to pay a little extra knowing that we are promoting and providing for local farmers who are working sustainably, and ultimately consuming a healthier and more delicious product? It´s not about perfection and doing absolutely everything right, we certainly don’t and we don’t expect others to either.  But we can all take little steps towards changing our habits. Starting out by just checking that your fruit and veg wasn’t flown in from elsewhere is a great first step, for example.

Espai Egg – new home to Bear on Bike

Bear on Bike has an exciting new home, only recently opened – called Espai Egg. What can we expect to find in this space?

Yes! We’re very excited about our new home. Espai EGG is primarily a foodie space; with a cafe up front, cooking classes in the back, and a co-working kitchen for chefs in between. We are also curating a program of artistic, cultural and social events, collaborating with projects and associations to add value to the local landscape.

By day Espai EGG is opened by collaborators The Deli Kitchen who serve up delicious, healthy and seasonal breakfast and lunch options accompanied by warm service and specialty coffee. In the evenings we host a variety of activities open to the public; from life-drawing and calligraphy classes, to cinema nights, pop-up dining events and a wide variety of cooking classes. We also tailor private events, from launches to celebration dinner.

The co-kitchen, available to rent by the hour

The ´co-kitchen´, with its collaborative approach and commitment to the sharing economy, is home to independent chefs and food projects. Chefs pay per hour to use the fully-licensed production kitchen to prepare catering, street food events and home deliveries. The setup provides an economical solution for the chefs as well as a collaborative environment in which knowledge is exchanged, coworkers are supported, and the oftentimes solitary work of an independent chef becomes a social experience.

We noticed a big workshop space, what kind of cooking workshops do you offer? You also do market tours?

Originally we were just looking for a place to host our own classes, but we quickly realised that this new space had the potential for much more. We decided to open the door to other interested chefs and create a program with a lot of variety. We run a market tour and cooking class aimed at tourists that focuses on local produce and cooking techniques. We’re also really excited to launch some more specialty workshops at Espai EGG aimed at a more local audience. We would love to do some practical workshops about food waste, for example. We are also really into fermentation and want to run some classes on that topic, as well as bread making and cooking with the seasons. We would also love to start getting Raval locals in to teach the traditional recipes of their home countries. This is a barrio that knows how to cook, and we´d love for Espai EGG to become a place where people can share and learn from each other.

The dining table set up for another feast for the senses!

We spoke about the ´foodie fever´ taking over Barcelona, with lots of new concept businesses opening and flourishing. Why do you think that is?

It´s really happening out of necessity. A lot of people open their restaurant or cafe only to realise that they are slaves to a 16-hour day, 7 days a week and barely scraping by. The stress of running or working in a conventional kitchen is no joke, it´s a very intense lifestyle and it´s not for everybody. A lot of the chefs with whom we are collaborating now left that life to start up a food truck, or a catering business, or run pop-up diners. Just like we did, people are discovering more efficient and saner ways to work in hospitality, so that they can be in charge of their own hours and get more worthwhile results.

There´s also the effect of the ´celebrity´chef: now it´s not enough to be served an amazing dish from an anonymous waiter, the punters want to know who´s behind it, what their philosophy is… They go in for an immersive experience. People want to watch the cooking, or know your story, they want to meet the chef or dine somewhere special. People are looking for connection when they sit down to eat and a lot of these new concepts provide that.

What a beautiful looking dessert!

Food trends and tastes are changing constantly. What are some hot ingredients to look out for in 2017?

We think the best things never go out of style. Forget exotic, trendy ingredients and look at all your local farmers have to offer! We would love to see people taking an interest in DIY: fermenting, making their own bread, cooking up a batch of jam, and visiting producers etc.

Of course, taking your canvas bags with you to the market is always on trend; as is saying no to plastic straws and takeaway coffee cups!

Visit their websites for more info….

http://www.bearonbike.es/

http://www.espaiegg.com/

*Photos taken by Iris Humm*