Chef of the Month - Nicola Morek
Delicious cake alert! The incredibly talented Nicola Morek was an absolute delight to interview for Vegan Living’s November 2018 issue. Nicola, who lives in the Brighton & Hove area, makes plant based desserts for cafes around Brighton, special occasions, pop up events and on request.
Read on to discover her talents. You can follow Nicola on Instagram @thekleenkitchen - where she shares gorgeous pictures of her creations.
Nicola Morek runs The Kleen Kitchen, making cakes, balls and bars for events and cafes in and around Brighton and Sussex. Her recipes are plant-based, dairy-free, refined-sugar and gluten-free and organic. She talks to Kim Willis about making treats nutritious and delicious.
When did your vegan journey begin?
Becoming a mum six years ago, I wanted to be as healthy and strong for my children as I possibly could. I began looking at nutrition more closely. Plus, I didn’t want to feed my kids junk food. Refined sugars made me feel sluggish and tired so I cut sugar out first. The more I read, the more a plant based lifestyle resonated with me. I didn’t agree with the way animals were treated and felt horrified by animal agriculture. It depends on smoke and mirrors - the truth is hidden. I cut out meat then dairy and felt fabulous.
How did going vegan lead to The Kleen Kitchen?
Even in Brighton, a mecca of healthy eating, I couldn’t find alternatives to the snacks and cakes I loved. So I made my own! At first, I was creating recipes for the family but I loved it so much and hoped there would be a demand for plant-based treats that were full of nutritious ingredients. I launched in April 2017 and it’s been a resounding success. My recipes are all created without refined sugar, gluten and dairy. It was massively important to me that everything was made with organic ingredients too.
Who do you cater for?
I sell in local cafes but also take commissions for birthday parties, weddings, shop launches and events all over Sussex. I also run pop-up events. I am from a family of foodies and we’ve always celebrated everything over a meal so I love to feed people. Making my first wedding cake was a real highlight. Not all the guests were vegan so the exciting challenge was to impress the omnis. When those who are definitely not vegan try a raw, organic, plant-based, sugar-free cake and they’re astounded by how creamy and sweet it tastes, without a stodgy, full feeling and no sugar crash, you know you’re onto a winner.
What’s the best way to inspire people to try a plant-based lifestyle?
Great tasting food! My husband James is vegan now and is amazed by how much better he feels. I never pressured him or forced him to watch documentaries. I just fed him great food and he was a convert. Same with the kids, I don’t lecture them, I just feed them amazing food. If you show people going plant-based doesn’t mean missing out, they can’t argue with the logic.
What are your favourite ingredients?
You can’t go wrong with cacao. It’s crazy to think the hideous dairy milk chocolate we grew up eating is mostly milk and sugar and barely any chocolate. Cashew nuts are wonderfully versatile and I’m experimenting with herbs. My strawberry and basil raw cheesecake is a popular flavour combination. I grow my own edible flowers to decorate cakes with and love the pop of colour they bring.
What are you most popular creations?
My Ferrero Rocher-inspired cake is loved by those who miss Ferrero Rocher. My raspberry and lemon cheesecake is adored and people go mad for my cereal bars. They are packed with puffed rice, oats, seeds and goji berries but as they’re not laden with refined sugar, they offer sustained energy. One of my customers is training for an Ironman and always has a stash of them on her.
Your instagram page is beautifully curated. Do you think Instagram has helped the vegan revolution?
People are shocked we don’t all live on a diet of lentils but the misconception that vegan food isn’t varied has become a thing of the past thanks to social media. Instagram has helped me reach out to my local community and a worldwide audience. Food should look as good as it tastes so I spend a lot of time on photos. It’s worth it - the majority of my business is generated by customers finding me on social media.
What does the future hold for Kleen Kitchen?
Food is the best medicine and a core investment in our health and wellbeing. I want to keep creating and sharing food which provides wholesome nourishment but is also fun, inspiring and delicious.
Follow The Kleen Kitchen on Instagram @thekleenkitchen and visit www.thekleenkitchen.co.uk for upcoming events