Interview: Ripe deli owner & cookbook author, Angela Redfern

Angela RedfernAngela Redfern has made a name for herself in the New Zealand hospitality industry since opening the Ripe Deli in Auckland back in 2002 which sells home-made style, quality takeout food.

Her belief in offering fresh, quality, healthy food that is good value for money has proved to be popular in the Grey Lynn/Ponsonby area, and she has recently released her second cookbook, Ripe Recipes – A Fresh Batch, featuring over 150 recipes that are more focused on health – but not at the expense of taste!

We talked to Angela about her new book and her philosophies on healthier eating:

What did you enjoy most about putting together this collection of recipes?

I enjoyed all the taste testing for sure but I think the overall process of seeing the book from start to finish is what gave me the greatest pleasure . How it all unfolds from ideas being thrown around in group discussions to seeing the end result with beautiful photography to capture it. When we created the salads in particular, ideas bouncing off each other was great fun and inspiring; there were many happy hours spent by the chefs involved in the test kitchen .

A lot of research has gone into highlighting the nutritional benefits of certain ingredients in this cookbook; did this stem from your own interests, or have customers been asking about it?

A bit of both. I personally am very interested in the nutritional benefits of food and even more so now that I have a family. With the fabulous growth in raw food recipes and inspiring dishes that are being produced, it is hard not to be excited about raw ingredients and their nutritional benefits. It’s always good to have something new to learn about and to keep evolving.

Being conscious of the food you are eating and the benefits of it for you is very beneficial to our well being. We aim to make this easier for our customers, having nutritious fresh food at their fingertips which is gratefully received with many people having such busy schedules with little time to prepare a meal. There is definitely an increase in customers wanting to know what is in the food they are eating and they are also excited about the plus factor of a dish – such as the addition of seeds or fermented vegetables – which has flavour and nutritional gains.

Do you feel that your Ripe Deli customers are generally more health conscious now, compared to when you first opened back in 2002? Are there more requests for allergy-friendly foods (i.e. gluten free, egg free etc.)?

Our customers have always been health conscious. They are part of the nutritional journey with us – adapting to new trends and nutritional information. I think our customers genuinely care about what they are fuelling their bodies with and appreciate our research and adaptability with new foods.

We have such an extensive range of foods that most of our customers with particular food needs are fully aware of dishes that suit their dietary requirements. I haven’t noticed a huge increase in requests for specific allergen free foods, however, saying that the paleo-diet seems to be mentioned often!

What’s your philosophy on nutrition when it comes to eating healthy?

My philosophy on nutrition is to fuel the body with what it needs to thrive and add in little bits of extra treats along the way. Every person needs to tune into what their body needs – what is great for one person may not suit another.

Why do you think so many people associate healthy eating with less flavour?

I think this would have been the truth up until a few years ago but I think since then New Zealand has seen an explosion in tasty and healthy food. Whether people think they can achieve this at home is a different matter – hence why we put together our cook books – helping people create healthy and delicious for their families.

What is the best way for people to add flavour to their everyday cooking without adding too many calories?

Fresh herbs – experiment with these, chills, lemons, limes – blend and play with flavours. Look at a variety of recipes from South East Asia, Middle East etc and see how they blend their flavours without calories – spices, fresh herbs etc. We are lucky in New Zealand now to have access to such a wide variety of these – as a child I seem to only remember the availability of parsley or dried mixed herbs.

What’s your best advice for busy women who want to begin cooking healthier, flavoursome food but don’t know where to start?

Get some great cook books, follow blogs, try Nadia Lim’s My Food Bag as this will help develop your confidence and extend your repertoire. My favourite for the raw food cook books are Dr Libby Weavers and Petite Kitchen – very inspiring.

ripe a fresh batchRipe Recipes – A Fresh Batch
By Angela Redfern
RRP $59.99

Images / Supplied

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