My Life in Food: Renée Elliott, founder of Planet Organic
'I don't do white bread or simple carbs so we make all our own bread'
Thursday 03 January 2013
Renée Elliot was an advocate of organic food when the only other person talking about it was Prince Charles. She started her career working at a wine magazine but on a visit to the US encountered an organic supermarket called Bread & Circus, which opened her eyes to organic revolution. When she got home, she quit her job and went to work in a health foodshop. In 1995 she opened her own natural supermarket, Planet Organic. There are now five more and a website and the retailer is now the UK's largest certified organic supermarket.
What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?
I use my copper pans all the time. I cook fresh every day and I'm always prepping or soaking something. I cook a hot breakfast for the kids (pancakes or French toast) every day, as well as a hot dinner (although not lunch), so there are always dirty pots and pans everywhere. The agreement is that I cook and my husband polishes the pans. The least used item in my kitchen is my bin. I don't buy processed foods and buy produce loose if I can, so there's minimal waste. Any waste I do create is composted, recycled or given to the dog.
If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?
I would go to my nearest organic supermarket. If you're cooking from scratch, £10 is fine. I'd buy some wholemeal spelt, vegetables (whatever is in season), hummus and there would be a little left for some raw chocolate.
What do you eat for comfort?
Chocolate. My favourite is the new Green and Black's dark salted chocolate. I love the combination of salt and sweet.
If you could only eat bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Bread, no choice. I don't do white flour or simple carbs, so we make all our own bread. I make sourdough rye and my daughter makes our wholemeal spelt bread.
What's your desert island recipe?
I'm afraid it's bread again. I've definitely got that recipe memorised. They say man cannot live by bread alone, but if you dunk it in olive oil you're set for life, so I would have it with a tin of olive oil from our trees in Tuscany.
What's your favourite restaurant?
Providores on Marylebone High Street. It does not-too-wacky but really interesting combinations of food and ingredients. I cook every day and I cook a broad range of food, but Providores puts things together that I just wouldn't do. It's beautiful food.
What's your favourite cookbook?
This may make you put your fingers down your throat, but it's my latest book, Me, You and the Kids Too. It's not just because I wrote it – it's because it has all my family recipes from my mum in it. That makes me proud.
Who taught you about food?
Craig Sams, the founder of Whole Earth Foods and Green and Black's. He taught me things about nutrition and organic when I first started, which has had a big impact on me and my life.
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