My creative workflow (if I can call it that!) goes something like this: I regularly spend time in local markets, looking for seasonal fruits, vegetables, flowers… just to get inspired. I’m not the sort of chef who makes a list at home — I need to touch the ingredients first. If something calls out to me, I buy it, go home and look in my cookbooks (I carry them wherever I go) to see what combinations could work with a particular flavor. “The Vegetarian Flavor Bible,” by Karen Page, has become literally that: my bible. It’s the first thing I pack when I travel.
Other times I might try to come up with a taste of something I’d recently eaten that surprised me, or else I’ll imagine a picture and colors, and work back from that to develop a recipe.

When I plan to stay in one place for a while (from two weeks to three months), I look for Airbnb apartments with a proper kitchen where I can work. I bring along my blender, food processor, cake tins, molds, and essential props such as plates and cutlery. That means two suitcases filled with just kitchen stuff and ingredients!
And if you think that it’s pointless to carry around ingredients, it’s because you’ve never tried to make a plant-based dessert in South China!

The hardest part of the process is taking pictures of the recipes I create. I take my tripod and photography gear with me everywhere, but while I can pack a camera and lenses, good light and beautiful backgrounds are often a matter of luck. The same with creativity and inspiration. It’s tough to adapt to new apartments and find a spot with good light and a nice surface to take cool shots. So many pictures have been deleted, so many cakes never even got photographed – just because I didn’t have the right space.

When I feel frustrated, I sometimes I blame myself for not having an easier and more stable lifestyle. I’d love to have my own home where I could work without the inconveniences of moving and improvising all the time. But after a few hours (or, OK, sometimes days…) of being upset and unmotivated, I realize how lucky I am to have the opportunity to travel and still keep working on my dream. I need to remind myself of that sometimes, especially when I want to set the whole Airbnb kitchen on fire with my tools and equipment (and occasionally my husband, too…).

Anyway, two years after setting out on this adventure, I now work as a consultant for restaurants and cafes around the world, I develop recipes and train chefs to make them, and – here’s the most astonishing achievement of all – I’ve learned to decode Chinese oven instructions without burning anything! Usually.


So, to end up this long post, I want to thank you for supporting Dates and Avocados. Without you, it would be impossible for me to achieve my dream of working as a chef while living and traveling around the world. I am deeply grateful… I would love to hear from you, if you have questions or comments or… Please keep in touch.

Now on to more healthy, plant-based, decadent desserts – and more adventures to share together!

Read the previous part of the story here

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