Intro To Chef Alastair

A little intro and background. My interest in food started as far back as I can remember, one on my earliest memories is eating bananas in the back of my parent’s car before I was a year old. I was always in the kitchen; my Mum would put me up onto a stool so I could watch what was going on and take it all in. She said I would recognize flavours at an early age and knew what I was eating. I always wanted to cook with my mother in the kitchen, to join in, chop, cut and learn. As soon as I could see over the top of the stove I started cooking and the rest is history.

In the early 1960’s I grew up in this big old house in London, England, in the kitchen it had a gas stove inserted into the space where a large fireplace had been. I remember the smell of the cold pantry, filled with veggies from our vegetable garden, that earthy wholesome smell you only get from home grow foods.

The most miraculous experience as a kid was watching the beautiful purple passion fruit flower turn into the most delicious deep purple passion fruit. I had my first garden at 9 years old and grew carrots, potatoes, beans, peas, strawberry’s and thyme, my fingers in the dirt, nurturing the miracle of life.

Food to me has always been an adventure, the gathering of family and friends around the table. My grandmother always made great feasts which I looked forward to every time. We would travel around Europe and eat all types and styles of foods. The foods meant as much to me as the sites and the places we visited.

In 1978 when I was 14, my Dad declared himself a vegetarian. In those days the standard diet was meat-based, just about no one even knew what a vegetarian was. My poor mother, with three growing boys, trying to figure it all out with no help, no guidance. We would go into restaurants and my Dad would explain that he was a vegetarian, and have to explain what that was, while I would cringe watching the waiters face as my Dad explained that he wouldn’t eat meat, not even lamb or fish; I was embarrassed.

However, that soon changed as we went into more ethnic restaurants, Asian, Indian, Mongolian, places that had vegetarian meals. You could taste the health in these meals. Good healthy meals, perfectly spiced, the right balance of herbs, very different to the heavy meat dishes I had been used to.

There was no end to my curiosity of food and my very first job was working in a health food restaurant at 14 years old. I got my first restaurant at 19, a Fish and Chip shop and after winning a culinary competition at 21, moved from there to join the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts where my eyes were really opened up to high-end culinary delights.

I worked there for a few years, and then left and opened an Italian restaurant downtown Vancouver. And from there went to culinary school, graduated with honors, and worked for the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Vancouver and Whistler. Finally moving from there to becoming the General Manager of operations for the second largest employer in Whistler running four restaurants and a night club. I think I have done everything I have ever wanted to do in almost every aspect of cooking. Finally leaving the industry to go to business school, learning to open and operate greenhouses and grow my own food.

This I did while working with a friend to become the Executive Chef and VP of Corporate Sales for Rhineland Cutlery, which took me from one side of Canada to the other at culinary trade shows. I would teach, instruct, share my passion, while meeting cooks, chefs and passionate epicureans on all levels from kids to adults on their own culinary journeys.  

Throughout this process, I have maintained my lifestyle as a Flexitarian, eating mostly vegetarian cuisine at home, while having organic grass fed, ethically raised meat 2-3 times a week. This flexible eating life style always worked in my industry as you have to eat what all the cooks eat before a big banquet. You have to eat what is available, this style of eating is no guilt and no stress.

This last year we lost two members of my family. My Mum’s brother, my uncle, passed away from diabetes and my Dad’s sister, my aunt, from heart disease. The stressful COVID lockdowns meant I ate almost all my food at home, had little exercise and ended up eating more and more meat. At Christmas I was topping the scales at 296 lbs. I’m 6’7” and realized that if I kept this up, I would be facing the same serious health challenges that run in my family. I decided to get serious about my health and cooking. I started eating Natera plant-based meat protein and began walking more. I’ve quickly lost 18 lbs, and feel better than I have in years.

My life has been a culinary adventure and it’s now my goal to help move you from a meat-based diet to teach the understanding on how easy it is to incorporate vegetarian options into your diet. Times are changing, I’m back to my flexitarian lifestyle and slowly adding more and more vegan and vegetarian meals to my diet and maybe I will find my way to becoming full vegan. I’m on a journey and I invite you to come and join me here, one good meal at a time with Natera Foods.

 

You can reach Chef Alastair at, chef@naterafoods.com Alastair's life-long passion for food was inherited from his mother and grandmother. He's an Honours graduate of the Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island at VIU, and has been cooking since he was old enough to see over the top of the stove.

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