On Saturday 15 June 2019 I am celebrating the return of Lia’s Kitchen World Café. The night returns to a new location at Riverside in Cardiff. It brings some of the Kitchen’s loved dishes from past events to your table.
This means a lot to me. Because the World Café dinners, which were the Kitchen’s first regular public events, back in 2015 told everyone a story of our cultural diversity, fantastic produce and my own homes. They were made possible with help of friends. They also brought so many of us together for more than just a tasty dinner.
In April 2019, Lia’s Kitchen was set up as a not-for profit company, to formalise its social and environmental objectives. As well as low impact food, raising awareness of seasonal and sustainable produce, and focusing on cultural diversity and inclusivity, our beloved food venture is about bringing people together and challenging isolation. Simply speaking we want to built the world we want to live in around our table. We encourage people to come SOLO and in groups by providing ticketing options to encourage you to do this.
Please bear with us on the regularity of events whilst we put our new plan of action and fun together. But I hope that you join our table on 15 June, to help strengthen the restart of the ventures. Our menu is below . Click and book soon.
I can’t wait to see you there.
As the dust settles I am finally getting to reflect on the Wasteless Cardiff suppers journey so far. I planned to write a blog for each Wasteless supper we delivered in March 2018 but surprises such as the heavy snow really threw us. The Wasteless team had to work hard and seamlessly to deliver the events against all odds.
For those of you who might not have heard about Wasteless in Cardiff it is a collaborative platform which involves more than one food businesses in the delivery of a pop-up feast using food surplus, food that would have been wasted and food that is produced in a less wasteful manner. I have been running it for the last ten months with Rebecca Clark from Green City Events. It is our brainchild as Ruth Molaski recently wrote in her Western Mail article. Wasteless has taken most of my ‘food work’ time in 2018. And we both really care about it.
We held our pilot Wasteless in October 2017. And in March we got together to deliver two additional events partly supported by the Sainsbury Waste Less Save More fund. The talented Jane of Hungry City Hippy wrote a fantastic review about the early March event too.
Who is Wasteless for?
Bringing new businesses to the table to inspire and be inspired by them in taking a wasteless approach remains one of the key objectives of Wasteless suppers trials. We wanted and continue to aim to showcase our local chefs and food businesses, and how they do ‘wasteless’ food.
Wasteless also aims to bring crowds to the table educating them about the potential of food they may waste and informing them about ways to be savvier at home. The events are much more than a meal, with guests really engaging in discussions about their footprint and impact, leaving more empowered after having shared knowledge and ideas on their journey to becoming wasteless.
Our choice to go from potential food waste to fine dining is deliberate. I am very keen that we make the point that a menu you are likely to have paid two or three times the price of a Wasteless supper ticket can be actually made from ingredients that we as consumers and the retail process most commonly waste. I hope this stark antithesis between food destined for the bin turning into gourmet dishes really sticks with our guests and those who read about Wasteless.
Our choice to do Wasteless and yours to attend the events also sends an important message to food retailers, who can see that we care more about what may perish – they are willing to work with all of us and they are listening. They have people like you and me working for them who care as much about reducing food waste. This has been one of the most encouraging messages of the project. We are in it together!
To date three Wasteless suppers have taken place in the Welsh capital of Cardiff. The WasteLess suppers preserved, pickled, cooked and served around 261 kilos of the food collected in the weeks leading to the events. The food was then safely handled, stored, distributed and cooked by the participating chefs/businesses to offer five-course feasts.
There were eighteen participating food businesses with different practices and business models, who prepared and donated food, and hosted the suppers – a number that has by far exceeded our expectations. In fact, when we wrote our project plan we thought we might attract around fifty people to our table at this stage of the process. But the food collected ended up feeding 135 guests (and another twenty people who volunteered to help deliver the events).
What was served at Wasteless…
The creativity of the chefs we have worked with is humbling. Dishes such as sourdough flavoured ice cream from Cocorico Patisserie who then used the bread again to make tartelettes for the canapes serving the cheese donated by the Cheese Pantry were a massive hit. Laurian’s recipes were conceived during the heavy snowfall when bread and vegetable was in shortage, and many of our guests had already started to think about food as a precious commodity. The fact that we already had over 80 kg food collected at that time propelled us into action to ensure that Wasteless supper happened regardless of the snow. The response was amazing and most of our guests turned up on the evening – many quite hungry for vegetable and bread at the time.
Also for Wasteless supper #2, our preservation master, the beloved Eira of Inner City Pickle created a delicious aubergine, tomato and chilli relish and a banana jam which we used in our menu. The amazing Laura of Tidy Kitchen company laboriously sliced and minced different cuts of chicken and pork to make scotch eggs and terrines for our guests. Laura came on the team just ten days before the event. And she blew our guests away with her dishes’s presentation as well as the flavour. You must give her food a try and support her newly established independent business.
At Wasteless #3 Chef Jan’s (Anna Loka) recipe of mixed vegetable rostis with a butternut squash sauce and crisp fried greens (a great use for wilted greens) inspired a lot of our diners to go home and look at their vegetable draw twice before clearing it. Melissa’s (Penylan Pantry) starter balls mixing various vegetable, fish and meat into delicious bites showed people you don’t need much to create an impressive party platter. Beca Lyne Pirkis’s trio dessert using tens of kilos of bananas, mandarins and frozen berries in a sticky mandarin cake, jam doughnuts and the most delicious banana fool I have ever tasted was spectacular and gave us ideas on how to use ripened fruit.
Beca, who is one of the baker’s dozen in the 4th series of The Great British Bake Off and now cook, food writer and TV presenter, said, “The issue of food waste is something that concerns me, and helping to raise awareness around it by being part of Wasteless is one way of inspiring others to make better use of leftovers as well as drawing attention to the volume of surplus food that happens weekly in Cardiff. I’m honoured to be asked to play a small part in helping the cause.”
Phil’s (Dusty Knuckle) mushroom ketchup, pickled apples, daikon slaw and slow cooked meat was a dish that required much labour and ingenuity in using everything that was made available to him – it had so many layers of flavour and texture and nothing was wasted. And I hope that my own new-found, personal obsession with dehydration, pickles and pickling methods from around the globe gave people at our table more ideas on how to make the most of seasonal resources.
Clare Williams of Penylan Preserves who created three different relishes for Wasteless supper #3 says, “I am extremely humbled to be part of the #Wastelesssupper team. Preserving is a great way of ‘keeping food’ for longer and I couldn’t believe how good the food was that was going to be thrown out!! I am a great believer in using my senses on when food needs to be thrown NOT a best before date on the packaging!”
The Purple Poppadom team transformed frozen chicken, most of it a by-product of the Wasted suppers at Selfridges last year into a delicious curry produced to us by the fantastic Illtud of Charcutier. ‘We are great believers in the work of the Wasteless team. Chef is very excited to have contributed a Purple Poppadom Nadan Kozhi chicken curry, showing how ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away too early, can be so tasty.’
The future is bright for Wasteless food events. As well as being a finalist for the Cardiff Life Awards in the first six months of its life, it has received much attention from the public and media platforms.
The question we keep getting is, ‘When is the next Wasteless happening?’ With the encouragement and support we have received from all of you and businesses in Cardiff and across Wales wanting to be part of Wasteless, there is a lot more that we can do to spread the message by inviting people to a wasteless table, and maybe a more wasteless lifestyle.
We would like to thank all the volunteers who have worked hard to make Wasteless happen. Most notably Dai Tilbert (Punk Bikes Cardiff), Laura Sorvala (Auralab) and Dan Barnett worked tirelessly on the events through collections, deliveries, preparation and on the night.
Great thanks go to Oasis Cardiff, the refugee charity who let us use their fridges and freezers for the vast amount of food that we used for Wasteless. Any fresh or frozen food we did not use was left at Oasis for the use of their daily lunches.
The fantastic businesses which contributed to WasteLess include Penylan Pantry, a sustainable café and grocery store which implements the low-waste approach in its practices; Mezza Luna, an award winning, independent, Middle Eastern restaurant; Anna Loka, the first 100% vegan café in Cardiff; the Tidy Kitchen Company, a dynamic, fine dining catering company run by chef Laura Graham; Dusty Knuckle, the best UK pizzeria according to the Guardian, a promoter of slow food and Wasteless menus; the award winning Purple Poppadom; the Cheese Pantry; Cocorico Patisserie and deliciously creative dishes; Penylan Preserves and Inner City Pickle chutneys, relishes and jams; the talented Beca Lyne Pirkis; Oriel Jones’s fine Welsh mutton meat. Wasteless Suppers have been hosted by the Little Man Coffee company, an ethical coffee shop which is a hub of community activity; Illtud of Charcutier who has been involved in WastED at Selfridges and is a talented food businessman in Wales; Caffi Sio, the sister company of Chapter Arts in Cardiff Bay and The Old Library Milk & Sugar.
Lia Moutselou of Lia’s Kitchen and Rebecca Clark from Green City Events co-design and co-run Wasteless. Our partnership on food waste and ethical ventures is well established. Over the three years we joined forces to deliver a series of food waste projects and initiatives in Cardiff, in collaboration with Love Food Hate Waste campaigns and other local organisations and businesses. From community cook ups with food destined for the bin, to roadshows, school lunch clubs and pop up street food stalls, we have inspired, engaged and educated to encourage action and behaviour change relating to food waste.
Lia’s Kitchen is an ethical food venture inspired by sustainability, Greek cuisine and world flavours: www.liaskitchen.com. Green City is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company based in Cardiff, hosting a range of exciting and inspiring environmental and sustainability events and workshops: www.greencityevent.co.uk
Special thank to Suzie Larke Photography for covering our Wasteless #3 supper and to Dan Green Photography for covering Wasteless #1. The rest of the phots are from Green City Events and Lia’s Kitchen.
Wasteless has received some queries about why this food waste was not used for the homeless and charitable purposes. Both Lia’s Kitchen, Green City events and many of the businesses we worked give support in kind and otherwise to many projects supporting charitable causes. In fact the profits of the pilot Wasteless supported the Cystic Fibrosis Better Life Appeal at Llandough Hospital. However, using food surplus to feed the homeless is not the purpose of Wasteless. For those concerned please rest assured that there is plenty of food waste at the disposal of charities, organisations and projects to support the homeless or otherwise less fortunate – Wasteless collected from just one supermarket location in Cardiff and we are sure many retail outlets would be happy to partner with charities. We are happy to share our experience if this helps anyone wanting to set up a project. The positive experience our supermarket retailer is having with Wasteless may provide them and other retailers with reassurance which might facilitate more agreements and projects in the future. Through our previous food waste reduction work we have facilitated partnerships. But often the limited resources of charities or such projects and the hard work required for the collections has been an obstacle to their long-term sustainability. Nonetheless there are fantastic projects in Cardiff, elsewhere in Wales and all around the UK that do charitable and stellar community work successfully either through their own collections or a subscription to Fairshare and we are sure that many more will continue to flourish.
On 14 October 2017 the first and pilot WasteLess dinner took place in the heart of Cardiff at LittleMan Coffee Company Café. It was fun, it was epic, it was inspiring and most importantly it was tasty! But what is WasteLess and why am I telling you about it?
WasteLess is a collaborative pop-up event which involves more than one food businesses in the delivery of a feast using food surplus, food that would have been wasted and food that is produced in a less wasteful manner. The pilot WasteLess feast collected over forty kilos of food that would have been wasted in the week leading up to the event. The food was then safely handled, stored, distributed and cooked by the participating chefs/businesses and volunteers to offer a five-course feast presenting eleven dishes. All participating chefs and cooks contributed ideas to the menu as collections went along. WasteLess tapped into their culinary culture, business practices and the creativity of their teams to bring a wonderful menu together .
I co-run WasteLess with Rebecca Clark from Green City Events. And after years of working together on food waste reduction projects through community cook ups with food destined for the bin, roadshows, school lunch clubs and pop up street food stalls, we wanted to set up a platform that helps local businesses tap into their creative and sustainable practices and to showcase elements of Cardiff’s existing and emerging ‘wasteless’ food movement. There are many fantastic businesses already doing great things and many more who could be supported to do more. We want to bring new businesses to the table and to inspire and assist them in taking a wasteless approach.
The fantastic businesses which contributed to the first WasteLess event include Penylan Pantry, a sustainable café and grocery store which implements the low-waste approach in its practices; Mezza Luna, an award winning, independent, Middle Eastern restaurant; the Little Man Coffee company, an ethical coffee shop which is a hub of community activity and of course, moi, Lia’s Kitchen. Many more were involved in other ways. The Cheese Pantry donated cheese close to its use by date. TOAST Ale provided the event with beers and ales brewed from bread that would have been wasted, The Bottle Shop Cardiff advised on the sourcing of ethical wines and Get Wonky Juices, donated their delicious juices made from ‘scrap’ fruit and veg.
‘Food waste is bad business practice- akin to throwing money in the bin. It’s unsustainable for future generations, and breeds bad habits in an already throwaway society’, says Melissa from the Penylan Pantry. ‘Being part of Cardiff’s first Wasteless dinner was a huge honour and a very exciting prospect, working with others to help raise awareness, offer support and encourage businesses, and the public to think differently about food waste.’
Anna and Zac from Mezza Luna said, ‘As a food business, we at Mezza Luna believe it is our social responsibility to be at the forefront of the fight against food waste.And by doing so encourage people to have better awareness of food and the environment. Middle Eastern cuisine is a great example of the WasteLess approach. For example, all parts of an animal are used for cooking in different dishes. We strongly believe in this approach and we aim to encourage greater respect for food.’
It is not just the businesses that we worked with that really believe in what we do.
Celine Anouilh from the Chartered Institute of Waste Management in Wales said, ‘ I much enjoyed this first WasteLess dinner raising awareness of food waste. Lia and Rebecca used of the right ingredients to produce a taste meal and an inspiring event: a partnership between enthusiastic and ethical businesses, forgotten food from super markets shelves, great cooking skills, creativity and passion! I ate a delicious meal, met wonderful people. CIWM Cymru wishes every success to this fantastic project and look forward to attending the next dinner’.
The October event was just a test to see if our WasteLess vision is truly possible. We are now ready for the next step. Partly supported by Sainsbury’s Waste Less Save More fund Green City Events and Lia’s Kitchen will help deliver more WasteLess events in 2018.
The first WasteLess dinner entertained thirty guests and raised over £600 for Cystic Fibrosis in memory of Tom Woollam (Better Life Appeal Llandough Hospital).
We would like to thank all businesses who donated prizes to a charity raffle: John Lewis, Snact, Get Wonky, HangFire Southern Kitchen, Milgi Cardiff, Penylan Preserves, Colourfiled, Twin Made, Nelly’s Treasures, Ellicopter Hoops and Sustainable Studio.
Lia Moutselou, Lia’s Kitchen and Rebecca Clark from Green City Events co-design and co-run WasteLess. Our partnership on food waste and ethical ventures is well established. Over the three years we joined forces to deliver a series of food waste projects and initiatives in Cardiff, in collaboration with Love Food Hate Waste campaigns and other local organisations and businesses. From community cook ups with food destined for the bin, to roadshows, school lunch clubs and pop up street food stalls, we have inspired, engaged and educated to encourage action and behaviour change relating to food waste.
Lia’s Kitchen is an ethical food venture inspired by sustainability, Greek cuisine and world flavours: www.liaskitchen.com. Green City is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company based in Cardiff, hosting a range of exciting and inspiring environmental and sustainability events and workshops: www.greencityevent.co.uk
Sign up to our mailing list for future WasteLess events or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few months ago, when I sat at the table with Maria Mouratidou to talk about Perek Farm near Thessaloniki, Greece I thought I would hear the story of a cooperative, a successful entrepreneurial model, which flourished in a Greece of adversity. But my conversation with Maria told me more about how food could help reframe our lives and reality. How important it is in preserving heritage, the recollection of which is starting to dwindle together with the lessons it has to offer. And how a different way of producing, farming and living could be one of the ways for a brighter personal and global future.
Greece is often branded as one of the most biodiverse, fertile and blessed soils in Europe which apparently can yield more produce per square mile than many of its neighbours. Yet it is in crisis. And the Greeks are running to supermarket chains offering them mass produced food from far-away lands. What has gone wrong?
Recently as I listened to BBC Food programme Sheila Dillon’s voice narrating the struggles and opportunities facing Greek agriculture I was reminded how hope is reborn by necessity, simplicity and through turning to the land. I come from a generation of Greeks whose parents left the countryside for a better future accessible through academic education. And here I am asking myself how many educated ‘fools’ does it take to break a country? Or could we turn our skills and knowledge to tools that could help us reframe reality for the future in Greece and around the world.
So what about Perek? Here’s my take on its story as a family business and an example of how our life, economy and nutrition could be reimagined.
What about Maria?
Maria is a sprightly, ageless lady, who left her academic career in 2003. She worked in molecular biology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Medical School. This gave her a sound basis for understanding the links between intensified agricultural practices, the use of pesticides and the increasing health impacts experienced by many of the farming communities where agriculture grew in concentrated pockets of land mass. Maria was also looking to change the pace of her life. ‘We wanted to live’, she says, ‘to enjoy the sunsets and to take time to breathe in the lavender. We never imagined that we could do so much for the people around us. We never knew’.
And so was Perek set up. Initially as a small business that produced traditional pasta and pie products typical of Northern Greece and the Pontos such as Trahanas (often fermented Greek pasta grain); Verenika (tortellini -like dumplings with various fillings encountered in other neighbouring cuisines such as that of the Ukraine); Ivristos (vegan pasta similar to tagliatelle but broken, dehydrated and toasted to enhance preservation); Perek pastry (large, thick filo pastry toasted and filled with greens or cheese or other goods); sourdough breads and specialty cakes flavoured with Tsipouro. All these goods used specialty wheat and rye varieties carefully selected for each product, grown and milled locally by farmers carefully chosen for their practices.
‘Subconsciously I looked at what my mother did’ says Maria. ‘I wanted more than just a business and to preserve methods, foods and practices from our long-lost homes in Pontos, Kerasounta’. There were many women in the area of the same micro-heritage that Maria could work with. So a workshop was set up and the reputation of its quality produce grew and grew. People visited to stock up on supplies, the place was like a magnet pulling in those seeking to reconnect with tradition and practices that Perek had to offer. The quality and flavour was unparalleled.
‘It was as if we had made a Nobel prize discovery, when all we had done was use resources grown in tune with nature. We made what we knew from our grandmothers and mothers – recipes and traditions handed down generation to generation. Gradually people started asking why they could not taste recipes with food they bought, why there was no restaurant on the premises. We were lead to growing as a business. As we say in Greece ‘the route leads the walker’.
Maria applied her scientific knowledge in seeking wheat, dairy and meat produce that was uncompromised. ‘As a scientist I felt it was essential to make an alternative suggestion to society to help rectify the damage done to our ecosystems, society and health. We have an obligation as scientists to talk about the impacts of chemicals on our food and genetics. And I wanted to also talk about the ‘science’ of tradition. To look deeply into our heritage and see how it leads us back to understanding the basis of longevity and how to enhance biodiversity’, Maria says.
‘All you need to do is watch and listen to each place (the Topos). The hint is often in the names of places, Ampelotopos or Agrampelo (the vine meadow), Karpouzlouko (the water melon field), Kapnohorafo (the tobacco plot). There is a reason for these names. People observed what grows and doesn’t grow well. Then they rested the land. They swapped crops’, she continues. ‘And you must remember, tradition does not focus on loss and profit and mass production. It is about making do, health and wellbeing’.
With the help of her daughter, a food scientist who researched Meznikof’s work and returned to Greece to be part of the business, Perek grew. Today the business employs over forty people. There are at least five regular animal farmers it collaborates with as well as an array of carefully selected artisan businesses.
The Perek Restaurant, a beautiful stone building with a large cyclical fireplace/oven in the middle, overlooks Thermaikos Bay and looks at Mount Olympus. It feeds up to 2,500 people each week and is supplied by the Perek workshop which continues to provide employment to many women and communities in the area. Perek supports free range farmers whose produce it uses for the restaurant, whilst it has also set up its own small farm mainly focussing on the rearing of black pig pork, indigenous in Maria’s home land. The pies, including the amazing Perek pie, often use wild greens (Horta) such as purslane, amaranth and nettle. Stipa (Toursi), fermented cabbage similar to sauerkraut and kimchi, feature on the menu. Katsikisio tyri, goat’s cheeses from free range animals and Greek varieties of chickpeas, lentils and other pulses also feature on the menu. It is the place to visit if you want to taste the land’s flavours.
‘One of the positive impacts of the crisis, was the lack of money to buy some of the expensive, industrialised animal feed which increased productivity and commercialised dairy and animal farms. This hit farming in Greece badly. But the remaining farmers downsized and turned to grazing and traditional methods of feeding. Production rates decreased but quality improved. The taste of the milk and cheese for example is now more distinct of the land’s vegetation’, Maria explains.
With a model so successful there could be temptation for Perek to grow and expand. Make no mistake, Maria is a business woman, savvy, clever and resourceful, but her message is unequivocal. ‘We supply twenty to thirty external businesses at the most. There are limits to how far we can go without compromising quality and the ethos of our business. We will produce enough for our restaurant, our own shop and some suppliers but we cannot supply everyone. There would be costs to that and we have to be careful’.
The meaning of life…
When Maria left her academic career for a different life she was ill. ‘Cancer made me revaluate life. I asked myself why I am running around like a mad woman. Why do I never have time? Why do I struggle?’, Maria told me. Can you relate to this too?
To me Perek is more than just a food business. It is a model and a way of business the depths of which might not be appreciated by everyone but its restaurant service for example remains accessible to the average Greek living in the area. And this is what makes it so amazing. That you can have quality in flavour, produce and life. That you can support ethical practices and communities through a conventional business model which is not willing to compromise its ethos. That you are able to preserve the elements of different segments of Greek traditions and tribes which shed light into who we are, how we can live more healthily and how we can connect to our neighbours.
I am not going to demonise where we are as a global society today, it gets tiring. There is a reason we made this journey through progress and perhaps now we are better equipped to move on into the future. Take Perek and Maria’s story as an example of how our and future generations could take academic excellence, skills and knowledge and apply it towards a different direction awar from our conditioned aspirations of achievement and wealth. Towards a more meaningful future for us, our friends, our nature and our children. Just take that.
Visit Perek farm all year around from Monday to Sunday. For more information here: http://www.perek.gr/ . Visit Perek on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Perek-Restaurant-Monopigado-Thessaloniki/387257144667373
On 21 May 2017 Melissa (Penylan Pantry), Sam and Shauna (Hangfire), Bettina (Brød-The Danish Bakery), Goldie (Samosaco), Ericka Duffy (cocktail and taste expert), Ashli (Spillers Records) and I worked together to deliver a unique night of food, drink and music. What united us, apart from our extremely worthy cause to raise money for Action Against Hunger, is our passion about women leading the way in food business and good, ethical, tasty food. We delivered this event under the banner of Meal Squared, a format that delivers collaborative events and which Melissa set up last year to strengthen Cardiff’s growing independent business community.
The inspiration for Cooking From the Heartland came from the ‘Severn Sisters’ Bristol dinner organised by Romy Gill MBE and Kim Somauroo in autumn 2016. It involved women from different food cultures to create a female feast. ‘We were so inspired by our experience [of attending the event] that we decided to have our own version in Wales. Our feast, ‘Cooking from our heartland’ is inspired by the international drinks, food and music makers we know and love’, say Sam and Shauna. For me and the other women who were approached to participate in this evening there was no doubt that this was going to be our kind of fun.
This is the story of our coming together. It tells you why we chose Action Against Hunger, what ‘Cooking from the Heartland’ means to us and why we think it is so important that women work together…
I would particularly like to thank Oliveology, Blaencamel Farm, Cig Lodor Meat, All Greek Delicatessen, CocoCaravanCocoCaravan for donating ingredients for the mezze platter and dessert I prepared for the event. A massive thanks to all the other women who volunteered and worked hard on the night . And to Kas of Waterloo Tea who gave us access to his amazing restaurant/coffee house in Wyndham Arcade to run the event.
We chose Action Against Hunger because …
‘165 million people suffer from childhood malnutrition. If they joined hands, they could form a complete circle around the earth. I think this says it all.’ (Mel, Penylan Pantry)
‘When we started Hang Fire, we sofa surfed for the first year, ploughing every penny from the last pop-up back into next. Now that we have a roof over our heads, we think if you have two quid, you have a quid to share. It’s important to always give a something back. Action Against Hunger does amazing work all year round, both at home and further afield. It is our chosen partner charity this year. With everything happening in the world right now, we need to keep looking out for each other and help those who aren’t as fortunate as us.’ (Sam & Shauna, Hangfire)
‘We’re told that we’re living in exciting times of such progress and achievements in the sphere of technological development and medical advancements, yet so many children are going hungry and die of malnutrition. That isn’t right. Thank goodness for Action Against Hunger for making it their business to help those who are less fortunate.’ (Ashli, Spillers Records)
‘Nobody is immune to misfortune. People’s lives change overnight through war, unemployment, illness. People go hungry in Wales. Refugees walk thousands of miles to safety, water and food. In Greece people like us bin-dive to find food. Recently, at food community project in Uganda I often drove past international relief lorries transporting food to South Sudan and Yemen on a massive scale. I support Action Against Hunger with all my heart’. (Lia, Lia’s Kitchen)
Cooking from our heartland means ….
‘Seasonal, free thinking, creative cooking inspires me. I love nutritious, wholesome ingredients, that are good for your health, soul and mind. My heartland is wherever I happen to fall. I like to cook with local produce from the surrounding area. I feel strongly that the best way to know a new place, is to get stuck into the local food culture.’ (Mel, Penylan Pantry)
‘We are Celts and experts in the art of slow cooking and smoking. Cooking from our heartland brings those two things together to create our own version of Southern Wales style BBQ using great local produce. We take the best that the UK has to offer and couple it with the cooking techniques we learned in the States all to a soundtrack by Dolly Parton!’ (Sam & Shauna, Hangfire)
‘Baking is an important connection to my birthland. Moving to Wales in 1998, I quickly felt at home but always missed Danish bread. The rubbish Danish Pastries in the UK meant I had to set the record straight. My heartland is with my grandfather (FarFar) who was a baker in central København. My mother, grandmother and I baked to his tales of making bread (brød), pastries and cake. I’ve kept going and now I can do the same for you through Brød.’ (Bettina, Brød)
‘We live in an age where access to “stuff” in unlimited. Every thing’s a commodity. You can hear music from a culture a million miles removed from your own. You have access to ingredients from lands far and wide. Anything goes. This creates an exciting palette for a music fan or food lover. But if something is made with passion, with heart and soul oozing out of it, it hits you in the solar plexus and resonates. That sort of passion is the difference between wholesale, mass produced for the highest margin return and the real deal. I think that the unifying thing about the team bringing this event together is that we are only interested in the real deal. It’s all about passion.’ (Ashli, Spillers Records)
‘The Heartland theme meant exploring my connection to Wales which for me revolves around art and literature. My cocktails are inspired by the Davies sisters who contributed much to the artwork and culture that enthrals me about Wales. They bought whole galleries of artwork (Monets, Manets, Rodins). They established Gregynog Hall as a centre of excellence for the arts, crafts and music. Most importantly, the Davies Sisters took in Belgian refugees including the sculptor George Minne, and the painters Valerius de Saedeleer and Gustave van de Woestyne. All three artists were to spend the rest of World War I largely dependent on the Davies family for support. You can visit the Davies Galleries at National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.’ (Ericka Duffy, Cocktail and taste expert)
‘Cooking from the heartland brings you the taste of my Greece whilst mixing it with world food influences, and good Welsh/UK produce I discovered in the past twenty years living away from the birth land. My platter is about ingredients from some of the businesses involved in the collaboration, whilst I introduce you to some of my favourite Greek and Welsh, UK- based businesses. And every dish reminds me of someone I love. My Yaya (Grandma) for the boozy tzatziki, my Mana (Mom) for the meatballs and my Aderfo (brother) for the fava dip.’ (Lia, Lia’s Kitchen)
Women should work together …
‘Women make up 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and account for about two-thirds of the world’s 600 million livestock keepers. Still to this day millions of women and girls around the world are discriminated against simply because they are born female. Events like International women’s day send a message of unity, solidarity and compassion. I hope MealSq Menywod sends out the same message on a smaller scale. Gender discrimination should not be accepted in this day and age.’ (Mel, Penylan Pantry)
‘We have always championed the idea of bridging the gender gap in any industry, and the hospitality industry is no different. We’re surrounded by talented, courageous women who are a daily inspiration to us. It’s a great privilege to come together and produce an event that is not only authentic but heartfelt from some incredible women truly passionate about what they do.’ (Sam & Shauna, Hangfire)
‘In the words of Poly Styrene “Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard. But I think “oh bondage, up yours!”. Being a go-getting female with a lot of knowledge in your field, you often have to play down your expertise and shrink below your ambitions. With politics at the forefront of many people’s minds at the moment, it’s important to remember that not so long ago women were denied the basic human right to have our say. But let’s not forget we are the lucky ones. Many women worldwide still do not have the right to exercise their own choice. In the face of regressive steps the world has taken lately we must continue to fight for our rights and demand equality.’ (Ashli, Spillers Records)
‘I like working with inspirational people, both men and women. But I think this is an event that shows how we women can support each other in business.’ (Bettina, Brød)
‘This meal presents females who work in flavour and taste – each of us in traditionally male-dominated fields. Between our different skillsets, point-of-view, and aesthetics there is a collaboration occurring – from baking, Greek cuisine, smoking, cheese pairing, cocktail mixing, and the music selection by the World’s Oldest Record shop.’ (Ericka Duffy, Cocktail and taste expert)
‘I have had fun and struggles being a female immigrant claiming my place in Britain! As a Greek girl, I was often stereotyped to suit the service industry just fine but some people were shocked I was also a law graduate, a young lecturer or that I chose to start my own food venture. I have had many lives. I refuse to be pigeonholed. And women should fight together against prejudice. Antagonism is not a female trait so it’s time to resist being turned into alpha-males. Our global village relies on running it together. There is space for everyone. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.’ (Lia, Lia’s Kitchen)
Last week the amazing We Are Cardiff blog asked me to develop a recipe for them! And here it is together with the full blog.
Remember to find out more about Greek food join one of Lia’s Kitchen intimate cooking classes on 3 and 10 February. I will be introducing participants to Greek Kitchen basics but will also be sharing Greek flavours and recipes that are not yet widely known in the UK. You can book online here www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/lias-kitchen-7901836356.
Or contact Lia for more information at email@example.com.
My pop-up dinner at Cardiff’s Street Food Circus in August 2016 showcased one of my most favourite menus to date. Food inspired by my homes of Greece and Wales was served under a canvas tent and the leafy trees of Sophia Gardens, in the green heart of the city centre at a pop-up restaurant operated by Milgi Cardiff.
I cannot think of a menu that sums up the Lia’s Kitchen approach to cooking and dishes better. It’s based on how I eat and my adventures in food. I am always on the look-out for fantastic, local and sustainable produce and products from my Greek and Welsh homes to integrate in my cooking. And I always try to showcase producers, flavours and ingredients that you might not have heard or savoured, like for example salepi, the wild orchid powder that flavoured my yoghurt ice-cream desert.
And here’s one other very important thing. I work with people I like and whose business I respect. Their produce/product is as good as their business and working ethos. I love what they do and how they do it. And this is why I believe I should tell you about them. They provide me with daily inspiration and nourishment, and they are or are becoming good friends in the most beautiful, unrushed, organic way.
1.Tom Frost and Blaencamel Farm work tirelessly through the seasons in a fertile valley of West Wales, between river and coastline, and grow vegetable using organic, biodynamic methods. Their land is unadulterated and pristine. The food is nourishing and full of unique flavours. For my August menu I used organic aubergines, tomatoes, chard, cucumbers, beetroot grown and summer salad leaves grown in Wales. Their vegetable is the perfect match for my recipes and some of the great Greek products I have sourced.
2. Marianna and Oliveology are based in London Borough market. She sources her olive products from a small, organic farm in Sparta, Greece. She also sources other organic and wild, foraged goods from the Peloponnese. I swear this is not a sales pitch, they are not paying me – I urge you to try their products for your taste buds’ happiness and your soul’s nourishment! Together with their organic grape molasses and their fantastic Agiorgitiko grape balsamic vinegar, I used their 18 degrees organic, extra virgin olive oil (so aromatic but delicate at the same time) to dress Tom’s fresh salad leaves. I also used their white balsamic vinegar with Greek honey and Oliveology’s flavoured extra virgin olive oil (rosemary, purslane, walnut, oregano) – another product on my menu exceptionally high in Omega 3 – to dress a summer vegetable slaw, made mostly with Tom’s vegetable too. The success of Oliveology’s products is that their quality will not let you down and their flavours are distinct but well balanced. As my one of my diners said: ‘You can taste every single flavour but it doesn’t punch you in the face’. I think Oliveology’s products are an experience you should not miss.
3. Benni Thomas and Cig Lodor Meat are a butcher business based in Carmarthenshire Wales. I eat meat once a week (or less than that) and it is mostly if not exclusively from Benni who supplies both Riverside Farmers’ Markets in Cardiff. Benni supplies me with Dexter Beef which is what I used for my Moussaka main dish. Not only does the grass fed beef taste like no other, it is also contains almost as high Omega 3 as oily fish (for example mackerel). It has a rich and moreish flavour that complements creamy béchamel dishes, a tomato sauce with hints of cinnamon and loves to be cooked with the meaty aubergine! I use it in burgers and stews, and everything I cook really. With such low carbon footprint this beef should satisfy the most environmentally conscious person. So if you live in Wales and you have not tried Benni’s products I think you should definitely put it on your to-eat list.
4. Jacque and CocoCaravan make delicious raw chocolate and hot chocolate drinks. I use the vanilla and cinnamon cocoa powder every day and for my August menu I sprinkled it amply on the Greek yoghurt ice cream served for the last course. I also coated my homemade pasteli (Greek Sesame and pistachio energy bar) in melted CocoCaravan’s raw, dark chocolate. Jacque’s chocolates, which he started making in Wales a few years ago, are creamy and melt in your mouth, their flavour is subtle and the digest incredibly easily (compared to other chocolates) in my opinion. His products are just incredible.
5. Yannos, Stefanos and Maltby and Greek Wines, were introduced to me by Marianna when I was looking for a Greek supplier of two of my favourite grapes of wine Xinomavro and Malagouzia. Not only did they provide me with wine from a great vineyard but they were able to recommend the better wine for my menu. The Xinomavro and Syrah sweeter grape mix they recommended was a much better pairing for the moreish flavours of the menu. For their professionalism and support at a very hard personal time for them I give them ten out of ten – they are so professional and helpful. It is so easy to order their wines online and they don’t let you down. Try shopping from them and you will see what I mean.
6. Mel, Jo and the Penylan Pantry are a sustainable, local corner store/cafe/deli a stone throw’s away from my Cardiff home. These days I only change Blaencamel as my vegetable supplier for the Penylan Pantry, who source organic vegetable ethically from around Wales, UK and Europe. The stepped in to source additional vegetable for the menu as part of their weekly vegetable box scheme. They also have one of the biggest selections of delicious British cheeses I have found in a place in Cardiff and I just love them. And their home is one of the brightest, cosiest cafés in Cardiff. If you have not lounged and shopped there yet, do it soon!
Lia’s Kitchen’s next event is on 8 October 2016 at Slow Food South East Wales’s Dunraven Bay festival. We will be serving Greek pies made with organic chard and foraged nettles from Bleancamel Farm