Rituals with Kuji: Lauren Lovatt
We sat in front of a cup of Mushroom (her favourite!) and discussed Lauren’s journey, the relationship between alimentation and mental health and the future of plant-based cooking.
WRITTEN BY KUJI
8 MARCH 2019
Earlier this year, we sat in front of a cup of Mushroom to talk about the journey that took her from Bath to Bali, the relationship between alimentation and mental health but – mostly – her goal to create a space accessible to all, where plant-based training professionals can connect with plant-powered visionaries to showcase specific techniques breaking down the barriers around classes.
What makes you different from other plant-based chefs and inspired you to create the Plant Hub & Academy?
I was inspired to create something I know is missing from London. A place to nurture plant curiosity, inspire ideas and bring passionate people together.
When I trained, it was difficult to find the right class focused on plant food and I had to travel the world, I wanted to bring this experience to London by creating dynamic classes for home cooks, new cooks and professionals to build a network of plant passionate people.
I guess what makes me different is this sense of collaboration, we are stronger together and I love to support others to realise their dreams.
Tell us more about Mind-Candy and the cultural shift you are trying to inspire with the workshop and the supper clubs?
Mind Candy is all about inspiring better mental health through food. Whether it is catering, teaching or organising experiences. I have learnt a lot from my own journey watching someone I loved struggle, it makes me sad to think that we didn’t know about the impact that lifestyle can have on wellbeing.
My goal is for everyone to have access to that information. For the nation to understand that: a balanced nutrition, fermentation and even simply the act of cooking can work wonders for our mental health and overall wellbeing. Not only to understand at an abstract level, I want to make this information accessible through experiences.
Behind this recipe there are memories of smokey rooms, magical parties and an idea of… never quite knowing what’s ahead. It’s inspired by Mexican techniques I learnt in America combined with some English flavour brought by the leeks I foraged with PTSD in Scotland.
What’s your inspiration when creating a new recipe for Mind-Candy? How did you go about selecting the elements to include in each dish?
Each recipe starts with a memory then evolves with some help from seasonal ingredients. Think about Mushrooms and Smoke, on the surface you have pan fried mushrooms in cultured oat butter and wild leaks. There’s a burnt pine nut cream on a lightly spiced tortilla which has been smoked.
Behind this recipe there are memories of smokey rooms, magical parties and an idea of never quite knowing what’s ahead. It’s inspired by Mexican techniques I learnt in America combined with the English flavour brought by the leeks I foraged with PTSD in Scotland. This for me is brain food, not only because of the local wild ingredients and their benefits but because of how it literally makes you feel. Hopefully the earthy vibes will leave you grounded, connected and alive.
Mind Candy supports and inspires better mental health, combining what you started with A Recipe for Wellbeing with actual knowledge on brain-nourishing food. Can you tell us something more about the effects and best use of an ingredient to feed our mind and help us managing our mood day to day?
Mind food starts with balance, eating regularly and being mindful of your blood sugar. Generally eating nutrient rich food full of good fats. On a targeted level, including brain boosting foods like omega rich walnuts, dark greens, healing rosemary and blueberries.
When I first tried the Mushroom blend I was blown away: you literally feel your neurones joining together!
Feed Your Mind Candy is all about inspiring and expressing better mental health through delicious food. Why did you want KUJI to be part of your event at PlantHub?
I was so excited to discover KUJI, it’s everything I love in a brand. Far out, good quality and so so tasty! When I first tried the Mushroom blend I was blown away: you literally feel your neurones joining together! It was the perfect fit and feature in dopamine for our mushroom, walnut and cacao dessert.
Each jar of Kuji is encoded with the intention to inspire a consciousness shift in your life. We like to believe our customers can feel this kindness and integrity at an emotional, physical and spiritual level from the first cup. We are curious, what was your initial reaction when you tried the original KUJI cream?
My mind was opened. The first drink I tried was the Turmeric at the Herbal Matches pop-up. I was drawn to the brand by the teaser, and the idea behind it. I felt inspired by a product with so much intention and care!
There is a ritualistic aspect to every KUJI blend. Can you tell us more about the benefits of integrating nature’s medicine in your everyday life? Do you have a wellbeing ritual?
I think wellbeing is about celebrating yourself, taking a moment to just be, enjoy something and breath. I love morning yoga, long walks and mid-afternoon superfoods. Taking moments to stop and be where you are before thinking what’s to come.
We can find incredible sea beets and sea purslane on the UK coast, their salty goodness adds so much to this seasons dishes!
Are there any ingredients that you consider highly underrated and would like to explore more in future?
Foraged greens! We have so many cool ingredients right on our doorsteps that have amazing benefits. Right now, wild garlic is in full swing and we can get it everywhere! Perfect to use in stir fries, sauces, pesto and in place of regular garlic.
We can also find incredible sea beets and sea purslane on the UK coast, their salty goodness adds so much to this seasons dishes!
Give us a sneak-peak. What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I’m focused on developing this years calendar for Plant Academy. We’ll begin our core curriculum Plant 123 in May with incredible guest lecturers.
I’m planning the Plant Summit in Bali, thinking about the Plant Hub Summer events, writing menus and recipes for the next Pop-ups and retreats… the list goes on!
Plant 123? We like the sound of it, tell us more!
It starts with Plant 1, a five day course on the fundamentals of plant-based food. During Plant 2 we’ll be talking about advanced techniques – like smoking, ageing, fermenting – and uncovering who you are in the kitchen. Plant 3 is a little different, it was designed for budding – or to support existing entrepreneurs – we want to help people developing their own brand, products and ethos.
What are the challenges that you face as a young woman managing a business whilst being completely open about your personal struggles?
I think as an entrepreneur you can end up juggling so many things and it’s easy to get snowed under. Getting enough support, learning to ask for help and being taken seriously are the main challenges, but when you meet a community of people that understand and acknowledge your work it becomes easier. Going to events is key, the Plant Academy and Vevolution are great places to go when looking for a community of likeminded people to hustle business and life with.
To close the interview, can you recommend 3 books that shaped your relationship with food and wellness?
I only really read cook books(!) and tend to read them cover to cover.
Wild fermentation by Sandor Kats is life changing, Moon Juice – The Cookbook for vibes (and gorge shots) and High Vibrational Beauty: Recipes and Rituals for Radical Self Care from CAP Beauty.
A podcast too, maybe?
Vevolution, Happy Place, Talking Tastebuds. I also love How I built this, Russell Brand’s podcast and Bryony Gordon’s Mad World!
Lauren collaborated with us to create some delicious recipes to support your overall wellbeing using Kuji blends. Try her famous British Bean Pancakes & The Natural Kale Chips Recipe or her Mushroom and Cacao Raw Cake and experience the magic of Kuji in your kitchen!