National Vegetarian Week - a chat with Great British Bake Off Star, Kim-Joy Hewlett
National Vegetarian Week – a chat with Great British Bake Off Star, Kim-Joy Hewlett
We caught up with Great British Bake Off star, Kim-Joy Hewlett, on all things veggie. Kim-Joy is taking the Veggie 123 challenge for National Vegetarian Week – you can join in too at www.nationalvegetarianweek.org
You have a range of books out – tell us about them.
I have two books out so far! ‘Baking with Kim-Joy’ and ‘Christmas with Kim-Joy’. Both are full of cute, colourful and creative recipes, with clear step-by-step instructions to guide you through. The aim is to make sure baking remains fun and good for your well-being, so there are cute illustrations and little inspirational puns throughout to keep you going.
What are your favourite vegetarian recipes from your book?
All my recipes are vegetarian (bar one or two that contain gelatine – though I do try use agar agar or Vege Gel whenever possible), and I also include vegan adaptations for loads of my recipes! As food brings people together, I think it’s important for it to cater for everyone.
What are your favourite vegetarian ingredients?
I’m technically pescetarian but very rarely eat fish. I have so many favourite vegetarian ingredients so it’s hard to choose. Strangely, I’ve never liked the taste or texture of meat, but absolutely love tofu, all kinds of mushroom/fungus, paneer, all vegetables, so so much! It’s all about how it’s cooked as well, I love cooking Indian meals with lots of spices. It’s one of the best ways to make really tasty vegetarian meals I think! And I just think you can be so much more creative with vegetarian food and the flavours you put in.
How often do you usually cook veggie meals?
All the time as that’s all we cook! Though me and my partner, Nabil, try to save time by making big batches of food, and then freeze it in portions. Our go-tos are: saag paneer, tarka dal, veggie bolognese with Quorn, veggie stew (lots of root veg and dumplings on top!), falafel, Chinese-style stir-fries, and soups. Then we just reheat it in the microwave, add a starch (rice, pasta or bread) and make a simple salad to go with it.
So you’re up for the Veggie123 challenge this National Vegetarian Week. What are you most looking forward to trying?
I’ve been really wanting to make a bhindi bhaji. Me and Nabil made one recently and it was amazing but a bit of a fluke, and we’re not sure what we did in order to replicate it, so we want to try it again and nail down the recipe!
Eating more veggie meals is a great way to do your bit for the planet and feel great. What do you think is the best thing about eating more veggie food?
I think it just tastes so so good, and I love that you can be a bit more creative with veggie food! Not to mention feeling better health-wise and for the planet.
What’s your favourite vegetarian meal?
Ooh that’s so hard to say! But in this moment in time I’ll say saag paneer as that’s what I crave at the moment. And second to that just Camembert all melted in the oven and studded with garlic… though that isn’t so much a meal, but it is very tasty.
Have you ever tweaked a recipe to make it veggie?
Ooh lots! Usually I find meat can just easily be omitted and more veg added in, or tofu or similar. Though more so I find myself tweaking baking recipes to make them vegan, I do that a lot. And it’s so rewarding when it works and tastes great.
What is your favourite recipe from your books and why?
That’s a hard question, as of course I love them all. They’re like my babies! But at this moment in time, I’m going to say my Pigfiteroles in my book ‘Baking with Kim-Joy’. These are profiteroles but the cream inside is piped to look like pigs (hence the name!), and they are all covered in chocolate to look like mud. They’re very easy to make, look effective and taste great. And you can be creative with it. It’s the kind of thing kids love to decorate!
Why do you think veggie and vegan food is increasing in popularity?
I think this ties in with people being a little more environmentally-conscious, as well as all the amazing options for veggie and vegan food there is now. For instance, when me and Nabil went to America we tried the Impossible Burger, which tastes exactly the same as a real meat burger. It tasted so real I couldn’t eat it as I don’t like the taste of meat! I have a lot of friends who love meat, but still find it easy to cut back on it because they can eat Beyond Burgers, Greggs [vegan] sausage rolls, etc, and they find that the taste is just the same, but they feel like better people for it. When the benefits of something outweigh the effort, that thing becomes popular!
If you weren’t in the food sector, what else would you have liked to have done?
So many things! I’ve just always loved learning and teaching myself new things. I think anything creative draws me in – so I would’ve loved something to do with fashion, sculpture, photography, art or interior design. But I feel baking kinds of intersects with all those things in a little way, which is kind of nice. Also I really want to learn more about DIY, perhaps learn some building skills on a course. I just think it’s such a useful thing to learn.
Though the thing I’ve always thought I’m best at is being comfortable! I just think it’s so important to feel comfortable in whatever you’re doing – and so many people don’t know how to relax and just be comfy. For instance, Nabil comes home and doesn’t instantly change into more comfortable clothes. And he used to put the main light on rather than relaxing mood lighting – which I think is a bonkers thing to do! So I think I would love to be some kind of comfort consultant. Does that exist?!
Who inspired you to discover more about vegetarian food?
I‘ve always disliked the taste of meat, and as a child was forced to stay and eat it – which I think just made me stubborn and hate it more. Haha! As I wasn’t allowed to be vegetarian, as soon as I could eat what I wanted I was so excited to explore and eat all the amazing veggie food there is!
For National Vegetarian Week this year we’re encouraging people to get involved with our Veggie 123 challenge – which two celebs would you nominate to go veggie for the week?
Oooh! I’ll say Gregg Wallace and John Torode on MasterChef. And then it’ll encourage more contestants to make veggie dishes. I think sometimes veggie or vegan food is seen as a riskier option, and I have never understood this, as veggie food is the best!
What’s the next milestone you’d like to achieve?
We are currently trying to extend and remodel our home, so that’s very exciting. So the milestone is just having a calming and lovely home. As well as writing more books, continuing to create recipes, continuing to push myself, and being happy.