Oliver Sanchez, a private chef from the UK, and ambassador of Naturopathic Cuisine, about the power of food and food as medicine.
Today you are a passionate private natural chef, with lots of other qualification and services. Back to the beginning; when did your passion and love for food start/ when did you decide to become a chef?
My mother has always been an exceptional cook, cooking every meal from scratch. We were cooking the produce from our land, and animals from neighbours and farms around. I was used to wholesome food, never processed in any way. The closest supermarket was over an hour drive away and as a family, we will go once a month or every two months, for the basics and pantry fillers. At age 8, I asked my dad for a small patch where I could grow my own vegetables. Since then, I have experienced with growing anything from the seeds I was given from farms around. It was how I came connected to food. Today, still I am growing my food and enjoying true flavours, eating in season and sun-ripe produce.
Before you entered the private chef business, you worked as Inflight Chef with fresh onboard cooking. How did fresh cooking in an airplane works?
My experience as an in-flight chef onboard aircrafts was one of the biggest challenges, dealing with cramped places, and cooking only with what there. If something had been forgotten on the ground, there was no way to get it back once at 35,000 ft in the air.
Passengers would have 4 menus to choose food from. They had a canapé-style or cocktail menu for nibbles. A Mezze selection and they had a la carte menu where they could choose from 3 to a 7-course meal, and also an afternoon-tea menu that was called “high-tea”. Passengers favourites were freshly made pancakes with berries and maple syrup. And a breakfast menu, with eggs, cooked any way the passengers desired.
Today you work as Nutritionist, Iridologist and Naturopath in the UK. Can you tell us the differences between these 3 work titles/ the work as a private chef behind?
During my last year in catering college, I was ready to learn about nutrition and dietetics; however, my current situation did not allow me to go to a then private school and lose all of my student benefits, including my student accommodation.
I was approached by one of the leading nutrition colleges in London over 7 years ago and asked me if I wanted to teach and develop their coming cooking course. Visiting the school during the open days, was the perfect opportunity for me to realise my dream. I trained for 6 years to become today a registered nutritionist, a naturopath and finally an iridologist practitioner. These tools, therefore, allow me to assist my clients reaching their goals, let it be optimum health or having a private chef cooking “healing” food for their health condition.
You truly believe in the power of food, but most importantly that FOOD IS MEDICINE: Can you explain it, and give us some of your menu/ dish/recipes examples?
“Food as medicine” is a millennial long statement made by Hippocrates. It seems that in times that we call ignorance, much more was known about the human body and its relation to food. Today, it is all about what is published in medical journals and the rest stays ignored, and the body is seen in portions rather as the whole person. This has led to evergrowing waves of specialists that only know what they know.
Today, many diets are designed to promote optimum health, prevent or reverse disease (e.g. Ketogenic Diet, and Autoimmune Paleo). Most often these diets promote unrefined and minimally processed foods, a reduced grain intake, and, naturally, sugar, and loads of fresh vegetables.
By sharing your passion for good food, you offer your clients to learn to reconnect with food: how does it work?
In order to reconnect with food, one must touch, smell and feel the food. Understanding cooking processes is also primordial to maximise nutrient intake.
I offer days at the market, where people can see the product, ask questions to the producer and understand where food comes from, and that it is not only a wrapped piece of food on a supermarket shelf, with a label showing a date, weight and price only.
When I organise retreats, guests participate in meal making. This is great fun but it is also the key to reconnect with food. I believe there is no better food than the one you have made from scratch. It taste that much better!
How would you describe your culinary line as a private chef today?
Today, I like to call myself the ambassador of Naturopathic Cuisine. Not because I feel so special, but because I only cook therapeutically with food that promotes health and well-being, especially cognitive functions.
Can you share with us your current master/ best dishes/ latest creations?
My latest creations were made for The 30-Day Reset, a program dedicated to bringing you back to optimum health, identify foods that you may be sensitive to, stamp down any inflammation that may occur anywhere in the body, and restore the gut and a symbiotic microflora.
Anyone can join the program. It lasts 30 days.
Your selection of cuisine varies from Classic French to Japanese, traditional Thai to Mediterranean cuisine, and Spa to Comfort food: can you give us an example of your Spa to Comfort cuisine?
Comfort foods are those that satisfy you and usually bring back childhood memories. My best comfort food recipes are slow-cooked dishes, rich and full of flavours.
Spa foods are usually calorie-controlled, most often fat-free and with little carbs. Sometimes, I use some techniques from molecular cooking, focussing on tastes and flavours.
My all-time favourite is mizuna noodle with goat cheese mousse and sun-kissed tomato petals.
You work as well as Diet Chef: is this work for your publications or as well for dedicated clients of yours?
Indeed, there is more and more demand for chef with nutrition knowledge, even better if the chef is actually qualified in both. When I am asked for a specific recipe, it is often related to a diet. At the moment, the trend is all about keto diet, and this is what is in demand.
Most often, I am asked to cook and control calories for athletes. My latest achievement in Sport and Exercise Nutrition is allowing me to deliver services that exceed all expectations and that are rare, even in London. Usually, personal trainers write plans for their clients, without actually be certified in nutrition, and their plans are sent regardless of sex and physical abilities.
You still offer your service as a private chef for Business Lunches. What are specialities you offer here, in sense of healthy food?
Everyone hates a dip after lunch when you are still expected to be productive. Busy people do not have time for a nap, so I focus on nutrient-dense food and design a blood-sugar-friendly menu so that my clients are unlikely to lose focus, concentration, and be less tempted to reeach out for coffee or sugar, to keep their energy level maxed up.
As private chef you also offer Dinner Parties, In-House Cooking lesson and A day at the market. Is this service often booked/ requested by your clients?
At present, cooking lessons is what I am asked for the most. There is growing number of people who actually want to go back to cooking, and steer away from unhealthy pre-packaged food and foods that are full of preservatives and additives, also because many people react more and more to highly-processed foods. A dinner party is not enough, it is often to show off, or because of a celebration. People really want to learn cook, and often book several cooking lessons at once. I offer cooking lessons to suit all budgets, from 3 hours to a three-course meal making, to a whole day cooking.
Do you propose the menus at such functions… ?
I always ask my clients what they would like to learn to cook or techniques they want to perfect. According to their choice, I then build a menu.
You work as well as published writer: what are the latest topics you work on/ publish?
My latest article was published in Marie Claire. It was about MS (Multiple Sclerosis). I also wrote small articles like: “I do not like water, what can I drink?”, and longer articles talking about specific nutrients, such as “maca” in Your Fitness magazine, and “7 superfoods to boost your mood” in Superfoods magazine. My latest recipe was published in Thrive magazine. It is great to be involved no matter the subject, or the recipe, as long as I can bring my message to the world and empower people to take their health into their hand.
Can you tell us something about your own Blog?
My blog has had a complete refit, simply because I have now separated my two sites. www.exquisiteprivatechef.co.uk will now be the sole blog platform for recipes, and my new site: www.nutrunity.com will showcase articles on nutrition and health conditions. As we speak, many more contributors will be featured on these platforms to grow the number of visitors and bring subjects that I may not be confident enough.
What is your current master/ best innovative dish?
At the moment, I am trying to master vegan recipes, such as soufflé and other sweet delights, separating completely from the masses, which are proposing truly unhealthy versions of the original recipes, most often making it worse than the original. For example, last week I came across a recipe for Vegan brownies. At first, it looked really great but as I started reading the list of ingredients, my stomach turned upside down. There were 21 dates, 700 g of cashew nuts and loads of coconut oil. May be the recipe is vegan but it is one of the most unhealthy recipes I have seen of late, with about 3-4 dates per servings. It is the same for energy bars found in health stores. They are packed with sugar. Sure, it is not from cane but it is still sugar, and too much of it. My versions are a lot healthier and nutrient-dense, and do not rely on large doses of sugar, no matter its form.