We’ve all gone bananas for banana bread: how lockdown reunited us with home-cooking

We’ve all gone bananas for banana bread: how lockdown reunited us with home-cooking

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The pandemic got lots of people heading into the kitchen for the first time..and helped us discover great home-cooking talent.

It comes as no great surprise that as a nation, we’ve been cooking less and less. As life moves at a faster pace and home-cooked dinner is traded off for the convenience of a takeaway in just a few clicks, there continues to be a noticeable shift in the way we are eating at home. The important cultural practice of home-cooking is beginning to get lost amongst the noise of everyday life.  

Ordinary people have started making extraordinary food in their own homes

Then suddenly the pandemic caused a huge shift in our daily lives, and for most, our cooking practices. Not only did lockdowns see a surge in ‘stock pilling’, leaving many reliant on Jamie Olivers’ guidance to ‘keep cooking and carry on’- many of us were forced to return to very trusty home-cooking habits. Using the tins at the back of the cupboard and old pasta shapes, replacing one vegetable with another and hoping for the best… the list goes on. More than anything, the pandemic gave a huge number of people the time and freedom to turn their attention to cooking for the first time. For some, this meant returning to a previously neglected hobby, and for others it sparked a completely new passion for experimenting in the kitchen.

Our social media feeds were certainly not short of cooking inspiration and amongst the reels and recipes we saw national food trends emerge. For the first few isolating months the labour of love for the humble sourdough loaf attracted the masses, including one of our home-cooks, Anne, who was drawn to the logistical challenge of getting her sourdough bread just perfect. 

Then we went bananas for banana bread and mad for fermenting and pickling things – kimchi, kefir..even alcohol! People were making new and exciting food in their own homes, and with the help of zoom classes, Instagram lives and cook-book borrowing, new home-cooking talent was starting to emerge.

“A friend and neighbour handed me a jar of what looked like slime encouraged me to get baking with it... I've been practicing and discovering ever since"

Bristol is one such example of a city brimming with post-lockdown cooking talents waiting to share their lockdown creations with neighbours and friends. Giuseppe lives in South Bristol and was left without work during the first lockdown, so decided to turn his downtime into productive time and pursue something he had always dreamt of- selling his own home-cooked food. Lockdown gave Giuseppe the opportunity to get busy making his favourite Neapolitan style pizzas, and he started sharing them with neighbours which helped bring his community together during a difficult time.

“Giving a pizza is like giving a smile, and people needed that during the lockdown. This is besides crucial, but an important point to me, because I do think that cooking has a social role to play, bringing happiness and connecting people"

Once he was completely happy that he had perfected his pizzas, he began asking his neighbours to give him feedback and was overwhelmed with how much they loved them. Giuseppe’s pizzas were getting rave reviews, from the delicious tomato sauce to the quality of the crusts and freshness of the organic toppings. Since the launch of All About The Cooks, he has started selling his pizzas to the people of Bristol- taking his lockdown hobby and turning it into a full-time side-hustle. 

When the world started to crumble, having fun in the kitchen offered calm and control to a great number of people during a very tricky year. It may be difficult to see any silver linings from this pandemic, but we have seen many positive food-related changes, particularly in the big rise in home-cooking and confidence with cooking skills. 

Home-cooking is creatively fulfilling, empowering and brings communities together – definitely a lockdown habit that we hope sticks around for good.

If you are interested in learning more about kimchi, kefir, sourdough or any other fizzy fermented business why not visit our friends at Every Good Thing in the Cargo shipping containers in Bristol.

We’ve teamed up with them to bring you an exciting giveaway. For a chance to win their Gut Booster Bundle, pop us a line at info@allaboutthecooks.co.uk with the subject ‘Every Good Thing’ and tell us what your favourite fermented food is. Make sure to include your name and a contact number. Good Luck!

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Feed your Ambition: The Era of the Side Hustle

Feed your Ambition: The Era of the Side Hustle

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A side hustle is any additional work on top of your usual 9 to 5. Always wanted to dip your toes into a passion project? Then a side hustle is for you.

Life is too short not to be doing the things you love, but imagine if your passions could help pay the bills too. Your day job may be just cutting it, but everyone knows a little extra in the bank can go a long way.

It comes as no shock that 70% of young Brits are embracing the world of the side hustle; pursuing a second job from your own home may be the game-changer you need that not only makes your pocket happy but also gives you the financial freedom you’ve always wanted.

But what exactly is side hustle?

The best part of pursuing a side hustle is that is can be entirely moulded around your lifestyle. Imagine doing something you love, where you choose your own hours, and you get paid – bonus! It gives you the flexibility of being your own boss, with all the perks, without the commitment of making it your full-time gig.

Pre-pandemic, the side hustle community was rocketing, having grown 32% in the past decade. Covid-19 dramatically shook up the British economy, with almost 10 million people on a furlough scheme by December 2020, and UK unemployment predicted to reach 2.6 million by the middle of 2021, leaving even more people turning to see what they can do from home to pass the time and make a bit of extra cash. It’s no surprise that Google Trends data shows that searches for the terms ‘productivity’ and ‘time-management hit a five-year high in 2020, with the number of searches for ‘how to make more money growing year-on-year.

Whether you’re saving up for a house, wanting to explore your creative side or acquire a new skill, the benefits of taking on a side hustle are immense.

Airbnb is the perfect example of a thriving platform, paving the way for businesses in the sharing economy. The idea of offering a room in your home to a stranger is not one we ever thought would make a dent in the holiday rental market, but their glaring success proved otherwise, providing thousands of homeowners with a sweet monthly bonus. Imagine if selling your favourite home-cooked dishes to your local community could do the same. After all, sharing is caring.

"All About The Cooks has found the solution to starting your own side hustle"

All About The Cooks has found the solution to starting your own side hustle, while also being a part of the home-cooking revolution, even for those who are unsure where to begin. Maybe you are not sure how to locate a customer base, advertise your food or ensure your kitchen is food hygiene safe.

Connecting talented home-cooks to busy customers, our easy-to-use online platform takes away all the stress in between, providing delicious, authentic meals to people all over Bristol.

Food is about bringing people together, which has become particularly important in the past year. So, whether you are a trained chef wanting to try out your own menu, or the holder of a secret family recipe you cannot wait to share, we are here to help. Have your meals paid for in advance, connect with new people all over the city and share your love for cooking, all while putting a smile on people’s faces, as many of our current cooks can testify.

Nikos, City Centre

Nikos is one of our city-centre cooks, specialising in Greek, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean delights. He works his passion for cooking around his day job as a duty manager in a hotel.

When asked what he thought the biggest benefits were from pursuing a side gig from the comfort of his own kitchen, he said ‘I get to do what I really love in my own free time, make a bit of money on the side and make other people happy with my food – I think that’s a triple win scenario!’.

His advice for anyone wanting to start their own side hustle is to ‘organise your free time correctly, start small and make sure you know your customers’. Most importantly, he says, ‘you have to enjoy yourself when cooking’. He admits that it can sometimes be a challenge, ‘but a happy customer is definitely a good pay off!’.

Nikos recommends his Spinach and Feta pie – ‘the epitome of perfection in simplicity!’. Check out Nikos’ page and his other mouth-watering dishes here.

Mrunal, Patchway

Mrunal, based in Patchway, is another one of our cooks who dedicates her Fridays and Saturdays to sharing her take on Indian street food with the local community. She balances this with her primary job as an aerospace engineer during the week.

She found the biggest gain from pursuing her own side hustle through All About The Cooks was ‘meeting lots of like-minded people’. Also, she says, ’you get instant gratification, and the expressions on people’s faces are very rewarding’.

Her advice for prospective side hustlers is to ‘keep your food as authentic as possible’, and ‘do your research!’. She is thankful for our platform, saying ‘it’s good for cooks wanting to start their own business’.

Check out Mrunal’s ‘vibrant and yummy’ Mumbai-inspired dishes here.

If, like Nikos and Mrunal, you think you fancy yourself a little kitchen side hustle, start by reading more about how it all works today!

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We eat with our eyes…

We eat with our eyes…

Meet talented food photographer, Mireya.

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We spoke to award-winning photographer, Mireya Gonzalez about her passion for taking pictures and what it's been like meeting some of Bristol's incredible home-cooks.

There’s no doubt about it, there’s nothing that’s going to get your taste buds tingling like a lovely photograph of something delicious. People who buy through All About The Cooks will want to see great photos of the food they are buying. But we also recognised that the person who is creating the food is just as important – after all, it is All About The Cooks.

Choosing the right person to take pictures of our cooks and their food was really important to us at All About The Cooks. We set out to find a talented photographer who was as comfortable taking portraits of cooks at home in their own kitchens, as well as their incredible creations to ensure their pages looked wonderful on the website. We wanted someone who could teach our cooks how to take the best pictures they could themselves, and give them the confidence to experiment with their own photography in future. 

Mireya’s top 5 tips for photographing your own food delights...

 1. LIGHT

Find a nice source of diffused light that’s not too harsh.  A natural lights source works best so close to a window usually works. But make sure you don’t have direct sunlight shining on to your plate!

2. COLOUR

Play with colours, but always consider the colour of the food first. For example, if you have a plate of food with turmeric in it, play with blues and oranges, maybe green (but not all three at once!) Remember, simplicity is key.

3. FOCUS ON THE FOOD

It might sound obvious, but make the food stand out. The food is the focus here, so even if you make your plate or backdrop look great, the food is the most important part of the image.

4. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

Always come back to your routes. Trusting your own instinct and adding personal flair to your images makes your work truly authentic.

5. HAVE FUN

Just do it and have fun with it! Keep taking lots of photos. Ask family members what they think, compare photos and enjoy taking pictures.

It was a tough ask, but we feel confident that we found the perfect person for this in Mireya Gonzalez. Mireya’s genuine passion for food combined with our mission to make it easy for people to eat home-cooked food created the perfect match. Her gentle way puts our cooks at ease and has resulted in outstanding photography for our website and beyond.  We have even been featured, along with Mireya’s incredible photography in the Sunday Telegraph.

Not only has Mireya been getting to know our cooks well from behind her camera lens, she has also been lucky enough to try some of the food from each of the cooks she has met and photographed (we’re not jealous or anything). After her home visits, we catch up about the pictures taken and conversations had, and how much we can learn about other people’s cultures and identities from the food they cook. Mireya has shared some great tips on how we can all get involved and take that insta-worthy food snap by just using a smartphone!

To see more of Mireya's Photography head over to her Instagram @foodphoto.bristol

What was it like photographing the cooks? Any best bits?

I really enjoyed it; it was a lot more enjoyable than I ever expected it to be. I think it’s so different when you actually go to someone else’s house, just the personal experience of them opening up their home and welcoming you in is so warming. I was overwhelmed with how accommodating they all were, and so happy to share their food with me which was lovely. I’d sent them all a list of things they should prepare before I came, and I was hugely impressed with how well prepared they all were. It shows that they all taking it seriously and are a lovely bunch of trustworthy cooks.

In terms of what I liked the most, All About The Cooks itself looks great and I can already see how people are going to be able to explore their origins and love for food through the dishes they cook. As soon as each cook started talking about their food, it was clear to see how passionate they are and how much they enjoy explaining the intricacies of their dishes and the ingredients they used. I found it contagious, and I went home after each visit feeling inspired and keen to cook something different and exciting. I’m from Chile but lived in Brazil for most of my life, and love cooking from these cuisines, as well as Indian and Mediterranean. The cooks I’ve met have inspired me to take flavours and spices from these different cuisines and integrate them into my own unique recipes.

Did you find they were all confident in presenting and photographing their own food in a way that will appeal to customers?

 

It helped that I visited their homes because I could tell they felt comfortable in their own environment doing what they love doing, it automatically gives them more confidence. They obviously all had different personalities; some were extremely open from the beginning and others less so, but at the end of the day we all really enjoyed ourselves having a bit of an experiment! Some of them were very confident in plating the food and some had a really good knowledge of how to photograph it too, it was really clear when they knew what they wanted to show through the photos. Other cooks had never thought specifically about shapes, reflections, light and shadows, but were still creating lovely looking dishes. I told each cook to plate their food the way they would normally, and then I would interfere in small ways, maybe tweak a few bits, choose a different bowl for example. As they will be taking their own pictures in the future to update their own pages on the website, I wanted them to take the lead from the beginning so I could see what ideas they had in mind.

Did they pick up your advice quickly, and do you think they would be able to confidently recreate your advice in their own homes?

Absolutely! I don’t like to complicate things, especially if they have to do it by themselves. They all learnt how to take simple and basic photographs that still look impressive and show off the best parts of their favourite dishes.

Where do you get the inspiration for your food photography?

I follow a lot of people on Instagram and love engaging with other people’s ideas but ultimately. I always trust my own eye. I’ve had a lot of experience with colours and light and shadow when working as an illustrator, and that’s what got me into photography in the first place. Most importantly, I always come back to my routes when I try to create something. There’s so much great stuff on the internet, and it’s easy to find inspiration, but I think it’s often all similar. If you want to create something that’s truly authentic, you have to always look inside your routes. Look at your personal background and what it is that makes your food unique and try and highlight those things.

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