I was very honoured to recently be interviewed by Obby, as I’m one of the teachers who lists events on their site. I’ve included a portion of the interview here with a link to the full article at the end if you’d like to read more…
Hi, Meredith! Great to talk to you. Let’s start with a little about Food at Heart. How did you come up with the name?
It really came from my passion for food as it’s been such an important part of my life for a very long time. But it’s also because the heart is what pumps blood around our body so is essential for keeping us alive. That’s how I feel about good food too; it’s essential to a happy and healthy life.
Have you always been a foodie? What was the flavour that made you fall in love with the culinary career?
Yes, I’ve always been a foodie (though the word didn’t really exist when I was growing up). Some of my earliest memories are of being in the kitchen baking with my mum and it filled most of my spare time in what I’d call my ‘normal’ working life before I started Food At Heart.
I don’t think it was one specific flavour that made me want to pursue working in food as a career; I think it was really the excitement that there were so many flavours to explore. That said, one of the foods that have taught me the most about taste and flavour is really good quality dark chocolate.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done with Food At Heart?
I think one of the things I’m most excited about is having launched my online program, The Joy Of Eating, this year. It takes some of the elements of my workshops but goes much deeper and I’m now planning to work with people one-to-one to take them through this process. I’m really looking forward to having this as a complement to my workshops.
However, one other exciting moment was having the opportunity to go to India last year as part of an entrepreneur’s retreat for people leading purpose-led businesses. It was really inspiring to meet people running some fascinating projects – and the food was incredible too so I came back with lots of ideas.
That sounds incredible! You talk a lot of ‘joyful eating’ on your website, what do you mean by this term?
Sometimes we get so caught up in talking about healthy eating and ‘nutritionism’ that we forget that eating well is actually also pretty delicious – when you know how to put ingredients in the right way. Joyful eating is really about eating in a way that celebrates amazing seasonal and whole ingredients and preparing them in interesting and tasty combinations.
However joyful eating is also about how we eat, not just what we eat. It means considering how the senses are involved in taste and how being aware of them adds a lot of pleasure to eating. Understanding some of these basics helps you prepare much better-tasting food.
Is joyful eating the same as comfort eating?
For me it is, but this means re-defining comfort eating. I think we have a lot of associations with comfort eating as stodgy or ‘naughty’ food. Actually, genuine comfort food is something that’s soothing and makes you feel good. I love hearty bean stews in winter and beautiful mozzarella salad drizzled with olive oil in summer; both of these are dishes that I find very comforting.
I really like the Danish hygge approach to this. One of my favourite definitions of this is “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”. That’s how real comfort eating should make us feel. And yes, that does sometimes mean a beautiful slice of homemade cake too! It’s all about a sense of balance.
We love the idea, but sometimes it’s difficult to find the time to cook and prepare, do you have any advice for someone who has a busy life and how they could fit in the time to appreciate food?
A bit of pre-planning goes a long way when it comes to cooking if you’re busy. I always keep a few things in my cupboard and fridge which means I can whip together something quickly. Anything with eggs, like frittata or omelette, which you can top with different vegetables and serve with green leaves on the side, is a great option if you’re short of time. This only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to prepare.
I have an organic vegetable box delivered each week which means I have a fridge and cupboard stocked with some tasty ingredients with very little effort. That way I don’t need to be worried about going out and shopping for meals each day. If you have good things in your kitchen, which you know you can make a quick meal from, you might find you’re a bit less likely to reach for the takeaway menu.
Any advice for people who survive off ready meals still and couldn’t bare the thought of cooking the weeks food on a Sunday?
I don’t personally tend to batch cook each week as I never quite know what I’ll fancy from day to day, but I do make enough at dinner to cover me for lunch the following day. Or I will make extra soup and put it in the freezer. And of course, it’s also okay if you supplement home cooking with a few good quality ready-made meals (ideally not ones full of processed stuff!). I personally cook from scratch as I love cooking, but you might want to ease your way into getting more confident with doing this (but this confidence will come).