Despite my love of cooking, I decided to study engineering graduating with a degree in electro-mechanics. After traveling to North Africa, Spain, the Canary Islands, Ibiza, and Italy, working mostly in kitchens, I searched for a job in the hospitality industry and was hired by a Swiss rm. I spent the next twelve years developing fusion food from Southeast Asia and India, as well as the wonderful Japanese flavours that I still use today in my cooking.
In 2001, I went to London. I had always loved the buzz of the city and now that I was running restaurants and kitchens, I was focused on developing new concepts. My eating habits, like many chefs', were erratic. Often, the food was anything but healthy.
After years of working sixteen-hour days, with no holidays, a poor diet, and very little sleep, I had a heart attack. After I recovered and got stronger, I developed a new concept based on raw food that had bases in London, Munich, Stockholm, Dubai, and Paris. Seduced by the idea, I decided to completely change my diet and lifestyle.
I devoted time to study raw food ideas and best practices and create a new restaurant based on organic vegan and raw food and wine. I settled in Berlin and opened La Mano Verde restaurant. I created a new generation of dishes cooked with only plants, and that appealed to a wider clientele. Before too long, my new menu looked as exciting as any high-end restaurant that served meat. I created a vegan destination where people would travel just to eat at my restaurant.
For years, my goal was to surprise non-vegans with delicious vegan recipes, to show that meat wasn’t necessary for a delicious and satisfying meal. When food is fresh and brimming with flavour, it will leave you feeling sated.
Plant-based food is vital for our wellbeing. I encourage those of you who are considering becoming vegan, to do so carefully and thoughtfully, to balance the intake of nutrients the same way as with any other eating.
With Vegan: The Cookbook, I share how plant-based food can be accessible and appealing to everyone, and show the world just how enjoyable and nourishing this food can be, from appetizers straight through to desserts. Most of these recipes have been created in my kitchen, and some are from cooks I have travelled with or people
These recipes should excite and satisfy vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores and expand your home kitchen repertoire. Enjoy the cooking.
CARIBBEAN JERK CHILLI
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 2 celery stalks, diced
• 1 onion, diced
• 1 red bell pepper, diced
• 2 teaspoons Jamaican jerk seasoning or chili sauce
• 1 cup (240 ml/8 fl oz) coconut milk
• 3 tablespoons tomato pur.e (passata)
• 1 cup (240 g) canned red or kidney beans, drained
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1 mango, diced
• ½ cup (30 g) chopped cilantro (coriander)
• cooked basmati rice, to serve
Heat the olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, celery, onion, and bell pepper and saut. for 5–6 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the jerk seasoning or chili sauce and cook for 2–3 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, tomato pur.e, beans, and fresh lime juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed. Cover the saucepan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in half of the mango and half of the cilantro, then cover the saucepan and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve the chili over rice, garnished with the remaining mango and cilantro.