When was the last time you cooked for yourself? I’m not talking about a ready meal or a hasty piece of toast when you get home late from work but a proper meal. You know, taking the time to put ingredients together, putting the right music on in the kitchen, looking through the fridge to see what needs using up and, why not, experimenting with combinations and flavours. As we are focusing on self – care this November, starting with food seemed like an absolute no brainer. It’s getting colder, darker and we all need some ideas in the kitchen to warm up and make an occasion out of an evening meal. Add a young entrepreneur to the mix, the desire to reduce food waste and the ambition to tackle food poverty through, well, Instagram and you have our first November interview for The Squiggles Edit. We are thrilled to welcome Hannah from ChicP and we hope you love the interview as much as we enjoyed preparing it. Happy November!
Tell us a little more about yourself and how the idea for Chic P came about.
My name is Hannah, I am 28 and my interests include good food, health, sport, travel, the environment and cooking. I have been an ‘ad hoc’ private cook on the side of my jobs for the last 9 years. The idea for ChicP started in September 2016 and in January 2017, I began to get the ball rolling. The main inspiration behind ChicP was my passion to change attitudes to the way we approach cooking and waste. Over the last seven years, I have cooked for families in the UK and all over Europe, predominantly as a private chef. I would often convert leftover Middle – Eastern inspired vegetable dishes into dips for the next meal – the reception was great and every day I would be asked, ‘What’s the dip of the day Hannah?’. While working for catering and events companies, I witnessed the colossal volumes of food waste. These two experiences led to the desire of creating a sustainable product – everyone loves hummus and I wanted to make a healthier version, using raw vegetables. I also wanted to make people more aware of the problems related to food waste.
- We love the ethos behind Chic P, it gives ‘soul food’ a whole new meaning. What is the one food fact you wish people were more conscious of?
I don’t think facts really do it. I just wish people were more aware of their everyday habits – the disposable living world that we live in is horrendous. People eat and drink on the go and not realising how much packaging they’re using and throwing away on a daily basis. If you think about the number of people doing this on a daily basis, the impact is huge. So, I guess one good fact is: In the UK we use 7 million disposable coffee cups every day – that’s 2.5 billion every year.
- Much linked to Ottolenghi styled dining, your products seem ideal for dinner parties, quick lunches and everything in between – what is your ideal dinner party spread?
Very true… My ideal dinner spread is beautifully coloured Ottolenghi vegetable dishes such as butternut squash, roasted onions and walnuts with fresh parsley and a creamy tahini sauce. Big green vegetable dishes with sesame seeds, flavoured oils and nuts to bring them to life. A good hearty and colourful quinoa or couscous dish with herbs, pomegranate etc. and if needed (depending on who I’m cooking for), a hearty slow roast lamb or chicken dish with a flavoursome aromatic sauce. I love a tahini brownie or yoghurt, pistachio and pomegranate dish for pudding – although I’ve been making homemade baklava for dinner parties now which has gone down very well. Otherwise- my famous banoffee pie is a must. And of course, plenty of ChicP hummus with roasted rosemary garlic pittas to start.
- Your spreads are the product of a lot of experimenting in the kitchen. What is one quick food hack everyone should know?
Blend anything!! Especially if you think it’s going past its use by date.. blending it will give it a new lease of life and hopefully some new flavours.
- And finally, what is your go-to quick recipe/comfort meal for Winter?
For winter.. roasted vegetables with turmeric and lots of garlic, topped with olive oil and a huge dollop of hummus, sometimes with some deliciously toasted rye on the side. (This is a hearty meat-free Monday night kind of meal!)
And on the subject of hearty Monday dishes, why not try some of Hannah’s tricks in time for tomorrow night’s dinner? As always, if you enjoyed the interview and fancy having a chat, you can find us on Instagram (@squiggles_comms and annamaria_sgueglia ) and Twitter (@SquigglesBlogs).