Five minutes with… Bettina Campolucci Bordi

The plantcentric chef reveals her tips for starting to go vegan, and why she loves Bali and mudlarking by the Thames

Food and Drink 24 Feb 2021

Can you describe your approach to food and cooking?
I am passionate about unravelling the potential of plants. Following basic principles, such as seasonality and local produce, plant-based cooking can be simple and inexpensive. I also want to cook food that makes me feel good – I’m a huge believer in that. All my books have a diverse range of recipes. From energising smoothies, to comforting sticky toffee pudding, there’s something to suit every mood.

Can you offer any advice for anyone taking the first steps into veganism?
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. It’s such an easy step to help you eat more seasonal produce and to support your local farming community. It will make you cook with produce that you might not naturally buy and it will taste great as you’re eating produce that is at the height of its season.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in your career and why?
Being a nice person to work with goes a really long way.

Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work?
I don’t think I could name one. Along the way there have been so many people that have inspired me. I think I am one of those people that gets influenced heavily by their surroundings and the people that are in them.

What ingredient can you not live without?
Good olive oil and sea salt make everything taste good. You can achieve a lot with those two incredible ingredients.

What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?
I know this is a little sad but my phone. Especially when I have family all over the world. The little device is a blessing and a curse really but it’s so important when staying connected to people, especially during these times.

Where is your favourite place to eat in the world and why?
I love eating in Bali because of the fabulous fresh fruit. It is one of the reasons I keep travelling back there, over and over again – I even set up a retreat over there.

What do you like to do on a day off?
I love exploring and going to food markets. I have also recently discovered mudlarking by the Thames which is very relaxing and exciting because of the possibilities of what can be found.

 What are your biggest passions outside of food and nutrition?
I just love walking, travelling and exploring. Every morning without fail I take an hours’ walk before I start work. With 2020 being travel-free, I have discovered some incredible hidden gems in London.

What is one positive you learned in 2020 that you will carry through into 2021?
To slow down, take my time with things and not rush.

If you could choose anyone from today or history, who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?
I would love to have dinner with both my grandmothers who were incredible cooks. One from Norway and the other from Bulgaria.

Chef Bettina Campolucci Bordi is the author of 7 Day Vegan Challenge and Happy Food;