Our new Table Talk series is all about dinner party conversations. If you were sat beside our guests at a candlelit dinner party, what would you want to ask them? We’ve curated our dream dinner party guest list and will be chatting to our guests throughout the year, asking them all about themselves, their area of expertise and, of course, their own dream dinner party scenarios.
Our first guest of the year is plant-based chef, Bettina Campolucci Bordi. Not only is Bettina the perfect inspiration if you’re joining in with Veganuary this month, she’s also passionate about food that makes you feel good and local, seasonal cuisine. If your new year resolutions are all about eating well, read on to get to know Bettina.
Hello Bettina! January is the perfect time to trial a plant-based diet with the rising popularity of Veganuary - could you share your top tips for starting a vegan diet for the first time?
A plant-based diet does not have to be complicated. Simply start off with grains, pulses and basic veggies and so much can be achieved. When you have great seasonal ingredients, you don’t need to overcomplicate things. My top tip for those wanting to be a bit more plant-based is to simply sign up to a local veg box. At the moment I am receiving one from Ashdown Organics and Natoora but there are so many wonderful companies out there. Next, invest in good pantry basics - think pulses, grains, nuts, seeds, good oils and spices. Then, get organised. Be inspired by food you want to cook and eat, and make a plan for your week. My second cookbook 7-Day Vegan Challenge has meal plans, shopping lists and recipes to cover you.
Could you share one of your favourite winter recipes that could tempt someone to try a vegan diet?
How did your upbringing between Tanzania and Sweden and childhood holidays in Bulgaria affect the food that you create today?
It's helped me to be inspired by different flavours. As I am not a trained chef, I think it gives me the freedom to experiment more and play with flavours. I don't follow the rules that you learn at catering college as I’m self-taught.
What are your favourite plants/ingredients to cook with?
It completely depends on the season. I go mad for fruit and veggies and like to make the most of the fleeting seasons of the likes of figs, forced rhubarb and asparagus. I also love to cook with a good quality olive oil.
Who would be your dream dinner party guests and why?
Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Edith Piaf. I sound rather old-school, but I love them.
What would feature on your dinner party playlist?
Again, I’d say some golden oldies. I’d whack on a Spotify playlist from the 50s or 60s.
Tell us about the most memorable dinner party you've ever attended?
This is a hard question. I think one of the most memorable ones was when Gennaro Contaldo and Jamie Oliver hosted me and a few others and they cooked from the cookbook Jamie’s Italy. It was so special.
Bettina’s dinner party edit: