Sophie, can you tell us your background and how you came to work in food?
I’ve always had a huge love for cooking. My dad was previously a chef and I guess in a very cliché way, I am my father's daughter. I remember countless times pulling up a stool in the kitchen and watching my dad cook, taking notes whilst being so intrigued as to every step and detail. Whilst studying Graphics at Ravensbourne in London, I quickly realised that my heart didn’t belong in that creative outlet but in food. I moved to Australia and set up my granola business; Dust Granola, after making it for friends and the cafe I worked in at the time. I’d say that was pretty much where my life changed. I knew I had to be working in food and this was a step in the right direction. I came home 18 months later and continued my Dust Granola quest. I launched into Planet Organic, Waitrose and Harrods... it wasn’t an easy ride but it was an amazing one. Slowly I began to do more and more events and a lot of yoga brunches/breakfasts before taking on my first retreat. At the time, I was developing the granola in a factory and had to make a decision as to whether to do another run or stop producing. I took a risk and decided to not do another product run as my heart and passion was in cooking for others - retreats being the most exciting part of my job at the time. Since then, it was almost as if closing that door opened up another great one. So here I am 2 years later still hosting retreats as well as running events in London. I feel very lucky to able to call this my job.
Can you tell us about your day retreat that took place in May? What did it entail?
The day retreat in May was probably one of my favourites by far. The adrenaline of course gives a good boost the day before to get the prep well under way. The main concept of this one was to welcome summer in it’s fiery way. I teamed up with two of my favourite yogis, Katarina Rayburn and Jonelle Lewis (whom also happen to be two of my greatest friends) to host the event in St John’s Church in Deptford. We started the day off with an opening meditation led by Jonelle. She also encouraged guests to set intentions ahead of the summer. This was then followed by a fiery mandala vinyasa flow class lead by Kat with Jonelle assisting. Think lots of twists, options for inversions and using the breath to build heat in the body. Post class, Jonelle then lead a mini workshop where a little sweet treat was served: cacao and sea salt granola bars. After this Jonelle lead a yin yoga practice, still sticking to the fiery theme but with the grounding elements of earth to help balance everyone out. The last part of the day retreat was the seasonal feast. A trio of salads, a Mexican bean stew, fresh sourdough, vegan cheese, crudites and two varieties of hummus. As a long running fan and lover of Falcon, a variety of the dishes were used; small bowls, plates, serving dishes and even jugs for the flowers. This was all washed down by one of my favourite kombucha brands, Fix 8. People left in trickles whilst we made our way around the room hoping to chat to as many as possible. An all round success!
We know you're a big zero waste advocate, what does it mean to you?
Over the last few years, my passion for zero or low waste has grown dramatically. I think even just making one change in an average person's lifestyle makes such a difference. We’re not perfect and we live in 2019 where there are copious amounts of products available, a lot of these being heavily packaged. I make a conscious effort, especially when it comes to catering so frequently, to buy my ingredients from a wholesaler or grocers. I minimise as much packaging as possible by choosing companies and brands which also think about this, and maybe have compostable packaging etc. Day to day I carry my reusable Keep Cup, my cutlery kit and water bottle everywhere with me. Even simple things like this make a huge difference - often people forget this and seeing others with theirs encourages them to remember or even swap their normal coffee takeaway cup for their own. I compost at home and for events and retreats - with leftovers or wastage it’s easy to forget and throw it away so making that conscious decision to not do that allows me to share with others just how easy and important it is.
Do you have any advice/tips for anyone wanting to adopt a zero waste lifestyle?
As I mentioned above, trying to remember a reusable coffee cup and water bottle in your bag is a great start. Invest in a cutlery kit - they’re pretty inexpensive and save you having to pick up a plastic set for convince. We are becoming pretty spoilt with zero waste stores around, which is amazing to see and I really encourage others to go and check them out. You don’t have to take your jars there and then; simply fill up a compostable paper bag that they provide and you’re already making the right steps. You’ll be surprised how fun it can actually be. My friend and I make a habit of going every Tuesday. I’d say it’s probably more of a therapeutic ritual now, stocking up with the things we need and discovering new things each time. Try swapping ordinary items such as your toothbrush to a bamboo one, or choose glass items instead of plastic - the possibilities are endless. The more you do, the more it will align with you and become easier and probably something you won’t think about anymore.
When it comes to Falcon Enamelware, is there a specific dish that you would make using anything from the range?
I love the pie dishes. They’re great for a whole variety of things; cakes, crumbles, roasted vegetables. I’m big into tray bakes when I’ve got food left over in the fridge. Pairing with some kind of tahini dressing, fresh leaves and probably a condiment or two! Sure, pies in pie dishes are great, but there are so many other great recipes to be made in them.
What's the most important piece of advice you have been given?
Maybe slightly cliché, but my dad once said to me, well actually multiple times, to “keep on going round. The world keeps spinning, you can keep on going round. And what goes around comes around.” I guess this can be taken in multiple ways but it made me slightly obsessed with a simple circular outline (which if you’ve seen my tattoos and jewellery, you will know this already). But it’s very true. Whenever I get caught up in something or bogged down by a situation, remembering that life still carries on helps me overcome certain situations. Plus, “what goes around comes around”, I mean, this is just a great reminder to do your bit, right?
Can you give tips on the best places to eat, drink, source ingredients in London at the moment?
I’m big into small sharing-dish places. My current favourites are mostly south east/east way. The Begging Bowl in Peckham for your Balinese/Vietnamese fix: they serve unlimited rice and there’s so much creativity in their dishes. Sparrow in Lewisham pay so much attention to detail yet serve such simple dishes in a whole variety of ways, plus their homemade sourdough bruschettas are banging. Stockton in Deptford is also another favourite.
When it comes to sourcing ingredients, I like to stay local. My grocers in Nunhead is brilliant and they now do deliveries as well as plastic free options which is amazing. Just a few doors down from there is a Bring Your Own shop, so I’m pretty much sorted in terms of grocery shopping. Peckham also has a new BYO shop opening called Gather.. but there are a variety across London that are all worth a visit. I think the more local you can go the better, not only for the sakes of carrying veggies home of course, but also supporting local businesses is quite special. Another secret tip (that may be not so secret) is that Turkish shops or MFC’s are your best friends. You can find 1kg of tahini for £4 or 1kg medjool dates for £8 - that's a real winner. Their produce is usually extremely fresh as it’s delivered daily and they’re extremely affordable!