At House of Coco we love experimenting and trying new things! Especially, when they’re health and fitness related! So to kickstart 2016 with a goodness bang, we decided to give Veganuary a go! First stop – a chat with Rowena Humphreys, the founder of fast accelerating and unbelievable yummy V-Curious supper-club!
Can you tell us more about yourself and your business?
My name’s Rowena and I’m the Founder of V-Curious – delicious food for people curious and keen about getting more vegetables into their diets! V-Curious is a plant-based food company that started life as a supper club – it has continued to grow from there. We create deliciously decadent dishes to really wow our guests.
While the plant-based restaurant scene is growing in London when I started the supper club I felt that there could be more. The majority of our guests are meat-eaters intrigued to try something different, keen to get ideas and open their minds to a new way of eating and dining. The response has been phenomenal, we always sell out and the brilliant reviews keep on coming.
The growth of V-Curious has been exciting and we’re successfully expanding into other services. We offer private dining, creating a delicious meal for people in their homes. We provide catering for weddings and events and as love to run pop-ups – on March 13th, April 17th & May 15th 2016 we’re collaborating with Sarah Hunt Yoga, the workshops are set on a Sunday afternoon to help us relax before the week starts – check out the pop up section on my website, it’s all there!
The word ‘vegan’ has quite a few negative connotations, the idea of holier than thou people eating bland food is often what comes to mind. The food has come so far and attitudes are changing continually – it’s funny but if you’d have said to me 5 years ago that I’d be vegan I would’ve laughed.
I became vegan when visiting a friend in Thailand. She greeted us with a delicious macaroni cheese followed by pecan and maple ice cream – I couldn’t understand how the food she’d created could have been made without animal based products. From that point on my interest was sparked and I became a sponge for information – I read lots, watched very informative films including Forks over Knives and Vegucated, listened to some excellent podcasts from the likes of Colleen Patrick Goudreau and Rich Roll and also did lots of academic research – I’m a scientist at heart so the facts needed to stack up for me and I wanted to understand as much as possible.
I very quickly realised that the best choice for my health, the environment and of course animals was to switch to a plant-based, vegan diet and I’ve never looked back. I think the reason it happened so naturally for me was because I had a brilliant person to speak to. My friend Brighde, was supportive, helpful and informative but never pushy, that was key for me because I needed to make the decision for myself and in my own time. I don’t believe in being pushy, if people want to know more it generally doesn’t take long for them to ask and the information is certainly around if you want to find it.
Do you have to be a trained chef to cook for people – where did you find the courage to start the supper clubs?
No, I don’t think you need to be a trained chef but of course it helps. My grandad was a patisserie chef and so I’ve simply grown up around food and cooking. I’ve cooked from a very young age and have taken lots of cooking courses, I continually experiment and research to get inspired. I also visit New York as often as I can because the plant-based dining scene there is spectacular and there is so much choice – just as you’d go out for a curry, you can go out for plant-based dining so it’s fully integrated into the restaurant scene. I love New York and always return to London hugely inspired
I’ve always cooked for friends, I love to do this and the honest feedback that I get is invaluable, in fact my friends were the ones to suggest that I start the supper club. After telling a few people, word spread quickly plus I love to entertain and I love to cook so for me it all feels very natural to me nature.
Don’t you find it strange to have a bunch of strangers at your living room?
(laughs) People ask this all the time but the answer is always ‘no, not at all”. People that go to supper clubs are naturally opened minded – it’s a different way of dining out! Also strangers quickly become friends and I’ve had so many great interactions that I can’t imagine not having them in my living room. Plus I’ve met some great people – in one night I had an app developer, a dietician, a social worker, a psychiatrist, a lawyer, a personal trainer and the CEO of a charity – that makes for great conversations.
You’re cheese is amazing! How do you develop recipes? Oh, what’s your favourite cook book!
Yes, I’m pretty proud of the cheese and it’s been a real hit! As you know we don’t use dairy so the key ingredients for the cheeses I make are coconut milk and cashew nuts – this gives cheese the volume. To get the flavours your imagination really is the limit – my latest spicy, pepper-jack ‘cheddar’ is a winner and features chilli flakes and jalapeno peppers. To ‘set’ the cheese I use ingredients like agar agar – often used in setting jellies. It’s a science to get the proportions right and there’s no end to the delicious combinations.
My favourite cook book continually changes so this is a tough question. I love Ottolenghi and I love to “veganise” his recipes – many of the recipes in his “Plenty” cookbook are vegan anyway. I recently received the book “Vegan Street Food” by Jackie Kearney which I love, and “At home in the whole food kitchen” by Amy Chaplin is a recent New York purchase which you can now buy in the UK too now.
How we can book a dinner spot?
Head on over to my website wwwv-curious.com and click on supper clubs. Check out the pop-ups section too of course because we have lots going on there!
Photo Credits of Rowena, Smoked Paprika Coconut Cheese & Involtini de Melanze – Matthew Maran Photography.