Day Radley was one of the professional chefs who took part in our Chef of the Future competition back in 2016. We catch up with her to find out how her career has developed since then, her passion for vegan food, and what techniques she’s been experimenting with during lockdown.
You were a runner-up in our Chef of the Future competition. How did you find the experience?
It was a wonderful experience. I especially enjoyed cooking alongside my fellow chefs. We had a great time cooking and chatting all day. We weren’t competitive but rather supportive. It was fascinating to see what they created and how they did it.
How has your career progressed since 2016?
My career has changed a lot. In 2016 I was working as a private chef, something I have done for most of my chef career. I moved into teaching, initially teaching home cooks. In 2018 I set up The Vegan Chef School in London, primarily to teach mature students in vegan cooking and chef skills so that they could transition to a career in vegan food. The school has trained over 80 people to take their first step into a career as a vegan food professional.
What is your local area like for foodie spots?
I recently moved to West Sussex from London. The availability of vegan food is quite different here! But it is on the rise. We have a market every Thursday and Saturday in Horsham with a few vegan food stalls. There is, of course, the chain restaurants for vegan food. It’s great to see they offer so much vegan choice now but I can’t say I like much of it!
What is your motivation for eating vegan?
I became vegan for animal ethics. In 1995 I went to a protest against the live export of veal calves. A protester gave me a flyer that detailed the life of a dairy cow and her calf. I didn’t realise, until that time, that cows had to be impregnated to produce milk. It had never occurred to me! Once I learnt the suffering and pain caused by the dairy industry I knew I had to be vegan. It was the only way for my actions to be the same as my beliefs.
Have you been experimenting with any new cooking techniques while in lockdown?
Not cooking techniques but definitely new teaching techniques! When lockdown started we launched daily live recipes on Facebook. I really missed teaching and wanted to continue, this was a great way to do this and created a whole new community.
What would you say to someone to inspire them to eat more plant-based food?
Have fun and explore! If you approach food as a way to be creative, to play and to discover new things you will enjoy it. The world of plant food is vast and growing bigger all the time. It is abundant and diverse, you just need to delve into it and be curious. And very importantly – focus on what you can have rather than what you can’t have.
Who are your favourite food bloggers at the moment?
I would have to say Katie with her blog Pinch Of Kindness. She graduated from the school last year and now works with us as a teacher. She has great recipes and lots of great food waste tips.
What are your top tips for great food photography?
Lighting, lighting, lighting. If you don’t get that right it won’t be a good picture. I like using diffused natural light, so light through a window. But also use an ice light for some shots.
A lot of people think making meals from scratch takes a lot of time and effort. What would you say to them?
Find one pot recipes. These are whole meals where you can put everything into a pot, add water and simmer. And that’s it! there are also one pan recipes for the oven that work on the same principle. So when you come home from work tired you can pop one of these on, go have a shower, a cuppa, a relax on the sofa and 30 minutes later dinner is ready. From scratch food doesn’t have to be time consuming and once you get to know these recipes they will take even less time. To save more time, make double or triple batches and freeze what you don’t eat.
What’s next for you?
We have more online courses in the pipeline, for home cooks as well as aspiring chefs. I will continue to teach as much as possible in whatever way I can!