In the Spotlight: Inés Lauber
We recently had the pleasure to work with Inés who has been developing recipes for Benoo, including the summer ratatouille. She tells us about her passion for food and her current work. Finally you can read her tips to keep a zero waste kitchen.
Inés, can you tell us a few words about you?
I’m Inès and I have been working in the culinary field for more than 20 years now.
I started working at the age of 16 by doing side jobs in gastronomy, mainly in service but also in the kitchen and I also worked as a barista.
Meanwhile, I studied industrial design. Then I realised: Why not use food as a creative material? This is when I decided to combine my knowledge in both fields to create a unique food experience design where people can reconnect with food in a conscious way. It comes in different shapes: business consulting, developing a storytelling plan, running events like dinners that are more than just eating but a full experience and an education tool through playfulness and curiosity. I love creative cooking.
So, yeah I’m not the typical chef. Although I never followed a classic culinary education, I learned a lot through these experiences that allow me to consider myself a chef now.
You have been working in the culinary and creative field since 2011, how would you qualify your food journey?
Somehow eating and cooking with quality products was imprinted on me. My parents have always shopped organic, so I developed this taste for good flavours and fresh ingredients. It’s familiar to me. For example, milk that has not been homogenized with floating creamy bits: this is normal to me. The flavour of UHT milk is weird to me. I feel lucky to be used to fresh flavours, I know what a good product tastes like, how the real taste and flavours feel like. I love dark bread!
During my teens, there came a time when I didn’t like things from home and everything else seemed better than at home, such as cakes or white bread in my case etc. But it was a phase and I now absolutely reflect on what I learnt from home. My parents always cook fresh from scratch. They didn’t go out for dinner very often. So, cooking is a normal thing for me to do in the day, it’s a routine.
What are your cooking specialities?
I’m omnivore, but really handle fish or meat like special products.
I definitely prefer cooking vegetarian or vegan food in my daily life. My body doesn’t crave meat very often, so I want to go meatless.
For a basic dinner, I would rather make a full vegetarian offer, except if the person asks specifically for meat. But I source my meat super carefully.
I also run a project with some friends about modern German food. So I’m actually interested in going back to the roots, because German cuisine has lost a lot of know-how, but it’s not as boring as most people think.
I love cooking Middle Eastern food, I just love the flavours and many opportunities for vegans and vegetarians, along with the spices as well.
I also love Mediterranean fresh food and the Italian style of cooking. I spend a lot of time in Italy and feel very connected to the country.
What are your inspirations to create flavours that hit the spot?
I’m passionate about good quality products, they are simply enough. My stay in Italy gives me inspiration in the way of cooking them. It’s a simple approach. A lot of dishes are only made of 5 ingredients or fewer, with nothing to “cover” and it tastes amazing. You can feel the original and amazing taste of quality and fresh products
You can also taste in the dish the passion, the joy and the pride of people who cook it.
How would you describe your experience with Benoo when you create recipes? Is it challenging to cook only local products?
The collaboration with Benoo is interesting for me because it’s a new approach, you’re bringing back all the knowledge that we all forgot : what’s in season, what’s local and what to do with it.
We got so used to cooking with everything at all times, including ingredients that are imported. So with Benoo, we have to change our habits because we’re limited with what’s available in the area, and it applies also to spices and herbs.
I love challenges. Since Benoo work only with local and seasonal ingredients, it puts us out of your comfort zone: we have to be more creative and take time to think differently and recreate flavours.
It’s been a nice experience for me, especially since sustainability has also a special place in my message as a chef.
Any zero waste or sustainable tips to share with our community?
Sure. First, when it comes to sourcing :
- Shop where you can avoid or reduce wrapping products, like markets or bulk-shops (Benoo team suggest “Herbie unverpackt” and “Der Sache Wegen”)
- Bring your own packaging (tote bags, reusable boxes)
- Buy good products and preferably organic, so you can eat the skin as well
When it comes to cooking, don’t waste your peels!
For some vegetables or fruits, you can keep the skin and eat it or cook it. When it’s not always great because of the texture, learn and use different techniques. For example, why not separate and save your peels to do amazing side dishes:
- Keep potatoes peels and roast them in the oven with condiments to create chips;
- Use the carrots greens to do a pesto with olive oil and seeds of your choice.
Finally, to keep ingredients longer, try other cooking techniques such as fermentation, preservation and jaring!
Thank you, Inés, for your time!
Follow Inés’ last news:
Daily at Benoo, we encourage urban communities to cook with local and seasonal ingredients. Why? Simply to lower the impact of our food system. By using regional fresh ingredients, we shorten transportation, avoid the use of plastic and reduce food waste. We have calculated that a meal cooked with local ingredients can be up to 2/3 less impactful than a normal meal cooked with ingredients from a supermarket.
Why don’t you try to make it a weekly habit?
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