Mireia Anglada: Defining concepts. Eco-chef, eco-gastronomy, eco-restaurant, eco-customer
Eco-gastronomy leads us to reflect and ask ourselves how the food we eat is growing? are we eating healthy? who is the local farmer? how can we take care of the planet from the kitchen?
Mireia Anglada is an haute cuisine chef and a member of Eco-chef Spain, she does R&D to develop recipes for the healthy food industry, teaches a master’s degree to train future chefs in healthy and molecular cooking techniques, is a conference speaker and a corporate nutritional coach. She has collaborated in training, with great restaurants such as El Celler de Can Roca and Xavier Pellicer.
Mireia is passionate about taste and nutrition and enjoys research. Her latest specialisation is the study of the mind, how food reacts in our brain, in our thoughts, in our humour, and makes us think about what we eat. She says that non-organic bananas have 95% less vitamin B6 than 30 years ago.
On the other hand, she gives training in Spain, Central America, and Andorra talking about the importance of these three pillars and provides tools to change habits. “I make them from a choice, not from a prohibition. Each one of us must be free to choose, for that it is basic to have the information and to understand why”.
Por Fabiola Gálvez
Let me tell you I had an experience in a supermarket, in the gourmet fruit and vegetable area, a customer asks a salesman: “are your products ecological? and he answers: No, they are organic”. What is an ecological product, a biological product, or an organic one?
Ecological is equal to biological and is equal to organic. At the European level there is a compulsory label that certifies that the product has passed controls, for example, what is “ecological” here, in France is “biological”, it’s very likely to make mistakes but it’s exactly the same. It depends on where you are. By law, they are those whose preparation has not used chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and the conservation has not used additives and preservatives.
What is an eco-chef?
A chef with an awareness of change, who not only uses organic products, which is the basis but also cares about the environment and general well-being through food.
Is an eco-chef someone who uses ecological products that they can buy or someone who has a garden and harvest them?
A real ecological person uses ecologically legislated products, yes they can have their own garden, if they buy ecological seeds and plants them, in fact, there are many people who buy biodynamic, which would be high quality ecological, you know that depends on the phase of the moon or how they put the horns of the cow (to grow).
Does the eco-chef recycle too?
Notice that when we talk about eco-chef, we are talking about food, not chemicals, trying to cook at low temperature, pampering the products and nutrients and the environmental topic, we recycle and try not to buy anything with plastic, we try not to enhance anything that damages the environment. It is true that there are no ecological fish, only wild fish. We always buy the best quality fish or the deep-frozen wild fish, but we will never buy a swordfish that is full of mercury that will damage the brain.
And in the case of food recycling, how is it done? I imagine using apple or banana peels to cook, I don’t know if something is made with them.
For example, we always use vegetable skins, imagine by peeling apples we make broth, what you say, nothing is thrown away. If we see that a product is not requested on the menu, it is for the people in the restaurant.
If there is an eco-cooking or eco-gastronomy, there is an eco-restaurant, there is an eco-customer. Would you define each of these terms for us? What are their characteristics?
Eco-gastronomy is cooking with ecological ingredients and nutritional balance. The main approach is to take care of the environment and people. And to be able to demonstrate that we don’t have to feed ourselves with poor quality products, without nutrients that only bring us diseases in our body. It is possible to enjoy eating and to eat well. It is not about dietary restrictions but balance and nutritional enjoyment.
Eco-restaurant is a place where the environment and health are respected, it is a dynamic establishment that when you enter there is a good feeling, there is a lot of cleanliness, not only in the environment, but in the food. The flavours are very neutral, spices are used, a lot of care is taken with the organoleptic part, when you take a piece of chicken it has a brutal taste, the cooking techniques, in fact, the restaurants of haute cuisine, use a lot of organic products and vegetables are from the closest countryside.
In the case of restaurants with dishes, without a menu. They make organic brunches; you see a lot of dynamism and creativity. There are the Buddha bowls, which are so fashionable. They give you the balance of the perfect dish, like hospitals like Meritxell in Andorra. There, they make the triplato, a dish divided into three parts: vegetables, carbohydrates and protein. And they always work a lot on the colour, it has to catch your eye first.
And the eco-customer, conscientious of the great importance of taking care of themselves to take care of others, and in general the respect towards themselves and the others. They are aware of no sugars, I don’t know if you know the website azucar.org, that is to become aware. Red meat, just a little, they rather omega 3, vegetable proteins, and above all, more vegetables. Cooked vegetables of all colours, flavours and textures, from gazpacho, a soup, a stir-fry, made at low temperature.
We want to know a little more about you. How do you start being an eco-chef?
When I started noticing food additives, I realized what we consume, and how our brain reacts through flavours to emotional reactions. This led me to study Chinese medicine, naturopathy and nutrition to understand more. Many of the NON-organic foods have fewer vitamins and minerals, for example, a banana has 95% less B6 than in ’86; strawberries, 87% less vitamin C, apart from that, they are full of pesticides, come from malnourished soil, are artificially ripened. I have also collaborated with doctors, especially in oncology, and there you will also see the importance of food intake. It is true that food does not cure but it can prevent many diseases, and the basis of health and physical condition starts there. Everything in life is conditioned by this, if not… how are you going to work, how are you going to be a good parent, how?
Life begins there. Your character is also conditioned by your food intake, depending on what you eat you will have a better or worse emotional state, you will generate different neurotransmitters depending on the food.
You have been working for years in the design of healthy menus for schools, hotels, or health centres. Can you design an eco-menu for a hotel? What kind of customer demands it? To get an idea.
To design a menu, first you sit down with the client and you adapt to their needs. It is not the same to elaborate a menu for a hospital, where the prices have to be adjusted a lot and the type of customer is temporal, in schools, where the nutritional value and the balance is basic and, to a restaurant, where it rewards the quality and the organoleptic part.
In a hotel, we would have a menu of different and creative appetizers based on pâtés, for example, with a base of vegetables and legumes, ceviche-type marinades, crunchy baked goods, etc. Starters with wholemeal cereals, creams, salads with creative vinaigrettes full of antioxidants. In the main dishes, with all the proteins like fish or meat or eggs, or vegetable proteins. Always accompanied by vegetables cooked with an infinity of techniques, and gourmet desserts without white sugar, with fruit or alternative sweeteners.
Most of the dishes are cooked at low temperatures, giving much importance to the vegetables that have to be 50% of the daily intake.
Where is eco-gastronomy going to in Spain? After this crisis due to the pandemic, do you think it will be the food of the future?
I think there will be more awareness, although it won’t be overnight, that’s true. We have been in confinement for many days, and if you have eaten badly, your emotional state will pay for it. Sadness, bad mood, is conditioned in part by what you eat, by what you think, if you have begun to exercise. You realize that no matter how much or how little you have now you cannot cope with the circumstances, and really if you want your life to change, the change starts with you.
Food is a good tool to start feeling better, and I’m not talking about physique, I’m talking about WELL-BEING.
Thank you very much for the interview, Mireia! Here you find her new recipe.