You may have seen some of the delicious creations of Zoe Arevalo King
, aka @satio.food
, over on our Instagram stories. We were recently lucky enough to work with her on our Easter themed photoshoot and sample some of her incredible edible creations (read on for two delicious recipes from the day!). We sat down with Zoe to find out more about how she became a chef, who her biggest inspirations are and what to expect from her debut book.
What inspired you to become a chef and can you describe your journey so far?
Well, I grew up on a farm with restauranteur parents, so being taught about food and provenance from an early age had a big effect on me. I have fond memories of bringing our chickens into the house, sitting them on stools and playing them Enya to induce better egg production. My best friend was our black potbelly pig, Freddie, and I used to write stories about him as he escaped and ran riot all over our village. We'd always find him in the village pub, and to this day I can't eat pork.
Later on, I lived all over Spain for years before having my son, Beau. Travel is truly the best inspiration. Most of my friends I met living there (and Beau's dad) are South American and I love the culture and flavours that they introduced me to.
When we moved back to the UK, my ex husband and I had a Japanese & South American fusion fine dining concept and at that point I stepped into the kitchen in a professional capacity alongside him.
Later, I moved more into the holistic side of food as Beau had quite a long list of things he couldn't eat growing up. At this point I was living in London juggling a few roles; from working as a private chef, managing the food side of a large events business and cheffing alongside a nutritionist, cutting my teeth as a chef. Eventually I decided to work for myself and started my own plant based food business just over 4 years ago. In total I've been working in food for 10 years now, but with no formal training.
All of the food you made for our Easter Feast is plant based. What draws you to plant based food and why do you think that adopting a plant based diet is important?
One of my first private cheffing clients in London was a wonderful family who owned an architect practice. They were vegetarians and I would cook a veggie lunch for their office staff every day before going to their house and prepping detox inspired food for them in the afternoons. I was already quite far along in my health journey by then, but after a month of eating the vegetarian food that I cooked them, I noticed a lot of digestion issues that I'd been suffering with since a car crash in my childhood had greatly improved, where no medical intervention had. Recently, I've reintroduced high quality meat and fish once or twice a month, if I'm eating in a restaurant, and only if I'm craving it. I think balance is important.
I've been really inspired by chefs like Ottolenghi who genuinely celebrate vegetables, and I feel similarly, I don't feel like I'm sacrificing anything. I'd much rather have a roasted aubergine over a meat substitute any day, but I do see their worth for people cutting down their meat consumption or making the switch to a plant based diet.
You have a lovely son, Beau, who is often featured getting involved on your Instagram page. What tips do you have for parents wishing to engage their children into cooking?
I think that when you get your kids are involved with menu planning, shopping, growing, and cooking, you're giving them choice and letting them feel involved. The more involved they feel, the easier it is to get them trying new flavours and ingredients.
I'm lucky that Beau has always been as obsessive about food as I am. He's the biggest foodie, and loves nothing more than a kitchen rave with me, loud music on, dancing and a cooking session. That's not to say we haven't ever had issues - I remember he went through a phase of only wanting red food and existed entirely on chorizo, bell pepper and tomato soup for months. I think you need to let them have their odd phases and relax knowing that they will eventually pass.
When I first started my business, I was delivering hundreds of energy balls around London every week, and Beau would sit and roll them in their toppings with me every Sunday. He's now a typical pre teen that loves youtube, but he's introduced me to so many cool cooking channels and we normally try something of his choice every weekend. Last month we made his carefully researched choice of a 6 hour sirloin and short rib burger with all the toppings, sauces and home cut chips for a mothers day treat.
We are so excited that you are working on a book - can you tell us a little more about to expect from your first publication?
Yes! I asked my network which kind of book would be most helpful at the moment, and worked around that. This first book is going to be digital, and it's really a product of everything that's been happening around us right now. I noticed that a lot of people are struggling with stress and emotional eating (myself included) and so I decided to put together a mini detox recipe book, that doesn't involve anything faddy or restrictive. It's a reset for foodies, as each recipe is designed to be delicious and satisfying - which is why I've called it Satiated. Alongside it I'll be offering a video option, to show you how to prep all of your food efficiently, as a chef would. It's launching on April 1st
, via my website, but I'm currently going through a rebrand so have a look at my instagram for updates @satio.food
What do you love most about your job? Do you have a proudest moment?
So many things. I love the autonomy, and being able to be creative, as I've always been in creative industries. Essentially, I love feeding people and seeing them enjoy an experience, whilst knowing that I'm also fuelling them correctly. I'm always super happy when the biggest carnivores tell me that they were surprised to have not missed meat in their meal at all.
I have a few proudest moments. First has to be winning Heat Magazine's taste test for energy balls in my first year of business, after a journalist trying them at a gym launch I donated some for. It made all those freebies in my first year worth it! The energy balls beat the biggest brands that manufacture and are stocked in stores, so I was just thrilled. Recipe below for you all to make at home.....
My client list has to be my other greatest accomplishment. I've worked with a lot of really amazing fashion and sports brands that are worldwide household names; its always a pinch-me moment that my favourite brands want me to make food for their events. I've worked with Adidas now on more events than I can remember (3 events in one day once, each in a different location - for which I had to pull an all nighter in preparation!) and I feel really grateful that they keep booking me.
What would your advice be to other budding chefs?
Be prepared to work hard - the food industry is not for the faint hearted and it's very physically demanding. I have more experience in the events industry than restaurant kitchens, but I find that a great work ethic, making yourself indispensable and finding your niche will always serve you well. It's very easy to do your own thing these days thanks to social media, and I think that's what makes the uk food scene so exciting - all the street food concepts and chefs popping up all the time. I'll be launching a short course on how to start your own food business later in the year, where I'll share everything that I've learnt along the way.
Zoe was kind enough to share some of her signature recipes with us so that we could share them with you! See below for her recipes for jackfruit biryani and those famous orange and tahini energy balls - yum!
SERVES 4 / PREP TIME 50 MINUTES
2 cans or jars of jackfruit (400g per tin)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon of garam masala
1 tablespoon of turmeric
2 inches ginger, peeled and grated
Half a can of full fat coconut milk
2 large red onions, finely sliced
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large cauliflower
40g parsley, leaves and stalks finely chopped
40g coriander, leaves and stalks finely chopped
40g dill, leaves finely chopped
1 pomegranate, deseeded
8 medjool dates, stones removed
2 lemons, zested and juiced
100g pistachios or pumpkin seeds
Drain and rinse the jackfruit. Using your hands, roughly break it into smaller, stringy pieces in a large bowl.
Add the spices, garlic, ginger, a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Cover, and leave it to sit in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Slice the onions into thin half moons with a knife, or in a food processor. Add them to the jackfruit bowl along with the half can of coconut milk. Make sure that you have shaken the coconut milk can thoroughly so that the fatty cream is fully incorporated.
Massage the jackfruit mixture for a minute until all the ingredients are combined.
Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower. Add them to the jackfruit bowl.
Line a large baking tray or two with parchment paper, and spread the mixture out on the trays. Place it in the oven to cook for 30 minutes, but make sure to check on it after 20 minutes, giving it a toss.
Whilst the jackfruit mixture is cooking, chop your cauliflower into sections to either pass through the grating attachment on a food processor, or to grate by hand with a box grater. If you’re grating by hand, place the grater in a baking tray to avoid a lot of mess. Add it to the baking trays of semi cooked jackfruit, tossing to combine in the oil and spices and return it to the oven for 10 more minutes.
Toast the nuts or seeds lightly in a pan on a low heat for 3 minutes.
Mix together the remaining olive oil, lemon zest and juice with a large pinch of salt and pepper.
Slice the dates.
Remove the jackfruit and cauliflower rice from the oven and leave to cool slightly, before combining with the dressing, herbs, nuts and dates. Serve warm or as a cold salad.
ORANGE + TAHINI ENERGY BALLS
YIELDS 20 BALLS / PREP TIME 20 MINUTES
200g medjool dates, stones removed
2 oranges, zest only
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons light tahini
Pinch of sea salt
50g white sesame seeds
50g black sesame seeds
Place the cashews in a food processor and blitz until you have small pieces. You want the nuts broken down but still with little chunks. Place the blitzed nuts into a large bowl.
Take the de-stoned dates and place in the food processor with the vanilla extract, orange zest, cinnamon and salt. Blitz until you have a sticky paste or ball, for roughly 30 seconds. Add the date mixture to the cashews in the bowl.
Add the tahini into the bowl, and with gloved hands (it’s super sticky) combine and knead the mixture until everything is fully incorporated.
Line a tray with baking paper, and fill a smaller bowl with the black and white sesame seeds.
Take small golf bowl sized amounts of the date and cashew mixture (20g per ball if using scales) and roll in your hands. Dip the balls in the sesame seed bowl, rolling them around to cover - the oil from the dates and nuts should facilitate this.
Place the balls on the tray whilst you finish the batch, before transferring them to an airtight container where they will last at room temperature for 14 days.
A huge thank you to Zoe for taking the time to chat with us and sharing some of her wonderful recipes. If you want to see more of her delicious creations, you can follow her on Instagram @satio.food