Bite-sized chats with plant-based eaters from around Brighton telling us how they enjoy their food and how they live.
Describe your diet:
Plant-based whole food diet. I eat mainly plants and grains and wholefoods (I do like a dirty vegan burger from time to time though).
How long have you been eating like this?
I've been following a more plant-based diet for 11 years or since trying to have a baby. I suffered many miscarriages so went down this route to help me have a healthy baby. It worked!!
I gave up eating meat fully 6 years ago and stopped eating dairy about 4 years ago. I call myself plant-based as my kids still eat eggs and I eat honey.
Food you just can’t get enough of...
Right now its hearty foods as its winter. Soup, soup and more soup for me through these colder months.
What do you think is missing from Brighton’s food scene?
A lively brunch place with day time DJs, please. I'm an old raver and don't get out much in the evenings so would like two go out in the daytime with the kids and feel like I'm somewhere cool with DECENT tunes.
What’s your signature dish?
It has to be my Super Green Nourish Soup. I make it for my nourish packages and its my go-to when I'm feeling under the weather or I want to cook for someone who needs some TLC.
Who inspires you?
There are so many plant-based chefs on the scene that I look up to and massively inspire me:
- Lauren Lovatt from Plant Academy in Hackney,
- Bettina Campolucci Bordi (Bettina's Kitchen)
- Niki Webster (Rebel Recipes)
- Sara Kiyo Popwa (Shiso Delicious)
My mum for teaching me to cook on a budget. My kids for their enthusiasm and love of food.
Tell us about how you started Gem's Wholesome Kitchen and what you do...
I started Gem's Wholesome Kitchen when we moved to Barcelona 6 years ago. I was making super yummy bento boxes for travelling DJs who were sick of airline food. Word spread and I set up a takeaway from our apartment cooking a vegan dish of the day which was 5 euros!
The kids were babies and it was very relaxed: A slightly disorganised version of what I do now. Now I run a monthly Nourish Package cooking plant-based whole foods for a 5-day delivery plan of mood-boosting and nourishing foods.
I follow this up with cooking workshops and also run supper clubs and cook for events. The idea is to inspire people with recipes and ideas on how to introduce wholesome plant-based cooking into their lives.
How did you keep your business going when you moved from Spain to the UK?
Initially, I didn't want to do food here as it was a struggle to settle back into UK living at first and I massively missed friends in Barcelona.
Sarah from Smorl's asked me to make her some breakfast pots and then the business are from there. I started making Granola and energy balls as well which I sold to Hisbe and local cafes. The business slowly grew and now it's doing brilliantly. It has been really hard work and a juggle with family life but worth it.
What does a day for Gem look like?
I get up every day at 5:45, have a cup of herbal tea then to F45 gym. I train with my sister in the mornings as it totally sorts my head out and gets me ready for the day.
Then it's time to get the kids sorted for school (they are brilliant though and don't need much help these days.)
Then it's an Instagram post: my business has a lot to thank Instagram for My days are really varied but I am always working in some way.
If its Nourish Package Week I'll go to the market, get my fruit and veg and start cooking. I cook fresh every day for at least 30 people so will be non stop all day. But I love it.
On other weeks, I may have meetings set up. I am really busy promoting the book now and have about 2 or 3 press interviews each week with national papers or magazines.
I also do lots of brand work so often develop recipes for brands. If I am doing an event or workshop, it may mean travelling and staying away for a night or two, but I secretly like the little break from home (even though its work) it is always fun and means meeting new people which I love.
You're launching a book, tell us about how that came about:
A senior editor contacted me from Penguin after following me for a while. After a series of meetings and proposals, I signed a book deal. That was in Dec last year and my book, The Self Care Cookbook, is being published on 12th December (Election Day).
It's a collection of easy, healing plant-based recipes along with self-care tips. It was an amazing process and I am really proud of it but was super hard work writing it as well as running the business at the same time.
I also did the photography myself which is another huge passion of mine. I went to an amazing Instagram masterclass with a guy called Matt Inwood a few years ago and this really sparked off a passion in me. I am so grateful that I met him and went to that course that day because I feel that my business changed from that day on. [Talk to Matt and he will speak just as highly of Gemma as she does of him <3]
Biggest lessons you've learnt since setting up:
- Be authentic and work with like-minded people.
- Say no to things that don't make you happy or you feel uncomfortable with.
- Be your true self all the time and good things will come of it.
- Get involved in lots of events, offer to volunteer or work for free if you can when you're starting out so you get to link in and work with like-minded people.
- It's not always easy but don't give up and don't give yourself a hard time if you need a day off.
- Self-care is key.
What keeps you going when you feel like the chips are down?
My wonderful kids, husband Peter and Doggy Flash.. None of it means anything without them. They are the reason I do it all.
What's next for you?
Things feel really exciting now. Am working with some people who are opening a new cafe/bar called 640 East soon (and will be doing an amazing plant based menu top go with it). Book No. 2 is on the way and there are lots of exciting events coming up as well as my monthly Nourish Packages and workshops.
Where to find Gemma Ogston
Website for Nourish Package and recipes
Book pre-order (out 12.12.19)