An Interview with Ceri Jones Chef
Hi Ceri, thank you so much for being involved in the Girl Gang Chat. Please introduce yourself to the Girl Gang:
I’m Ceri, and I work in food! I do a range of things from cooking for retreats to teaching cooking, leading workshops and writing recipes. I trained as a natural chef 6 years ago which was a big career change for me from working in the music industry. I grew up on the outskirts of London, and now I live a bit closer in and for all its faults I love it.
What inspired you to become a natural chef?
When I decided I wanted to do a chef training I was very interested in nutrition, and when I discovered there was a chef qualification that incorporated nutrition and farm to table seasonal eating (in San Francisco..) into one programme it felt perfect.
Have you always been interested/had a passion for healthy eating?
No! Sometime around my mid 20s I started to notice the impact that eating in a certain way (very little fresh produce) was having on me, so I made some changes, and from there it grew. My definition of what ‘healthy eating’ is has hugely evolved over the last decade, and I will admit I haven’t always got it right, so I try and keep it simple these days.
What do you enjoy most about being a natural chef?
I love the variety of cooking on retreats, leading workshops and then creating recipes. It’s a great balance of using lots of different skills and having the opportunity to be wonderfully creative, something I didn’t even know I had in me before I began. It’s wonderful making people happy with food too!
What made you choose the retreat chef route?
I had been on a few retreats before I worked on one, and knew how the food was such a big aspect of the experience. I was the one always asking the chef questions about what they were doing in the kitchen, and saw that they had a closer link to the guests than you ever get in a restaurant. I had worked in a café for a while and the kitchen was offsite, it felt so impersonal cooking food and not knowing who would be enjoying eating it later.
How important is food at retreats?
So important! Meal times are usually the only time everyone gets to come together with the sole purpose of enjoying each others company and sharing conversation, I love that food plays the central role in that experience. Can you imagine if the food wasn’t good? It would kinda ruin that experience. Also, an obvious one, people get kinda hungry when they are exercising a lot!
What types of meals could someone expect at a retreat?
It really depends on the retreat, for example yoga retreats and fitness retreats often run to a different timetable. But typically it will start with a late breakfast buffet with an egg and an oat based dish, a buffet lunch, with hearty marinated salads and dips and then a sit down evening meal where I get to do things a bit more fancy – such as a composed salad, stuffed vegetable
(or fish) main with sides (everyone loves my roast potatoes) and some-kind of chocolate dessert. I love chocolate desserts.
Do you think more of us need to eat less meat and more plant-based food?
Definitely. On a nutritional and sustainable level. However I don’t think it needs to be an all or nothing approach. I eat meat much much less frequently than I used to, for various reasons, but I still love a good burger.
Finally, what is your life mantra?
Just give it a go!
For tickets to Ceri's Seasonal Feast Cooking Class click here