We are so delighted and proud to introduce our first siren of 2023 - Thomasina Miers OBE - Co-Founder of the utterly delicious Wahaca restaurant, chef, writer, and restaurateur.
We’re long-time followers of everything Thomasina has done and were so excited to spend the morning together in our West London neighbourhood, styling up our new Spring collection, while chatting all things food and fashion. We talked about the inspiration behind her latest book, tips for a healthy kick start to the year, her everyday style and so much more, while not forgetting hanging out with her dog Chippy, who of course cameoed in a few pictures!
What drew you to a career in food?
We always ate well growing up. Both my grandmothers came from countries with strong food traditions so my parents just believed in eating well and having fun with cooking. My mother taught me how to buy food in season when it tasted the best and birthdays would always herald trips to Selfridges Food Hall for some special ingredient to turn into a feast. I wasn’t very good at playing with dolls as a child but I loved playing in the kitchen, making delicious things and basking in the good will that feeding my family brought me.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I go to my local food market and look at what new ingredients are in season. I try to eat out a bit to see what brilliant young things are cooking; travel always brings a mass of fresh ideas and I love reading cookbooks and spend a lot of time just trying recipes out at home.
How do you multi-task being a mum alongside all your other busy work commitments?
Ha! That is the billion dollar question…! I think that part of life is a continuous need and effort to find some form of balance: a balance of family life vs work life vs a need to find time for oneself. Sometimes I work too hard and then need to put more time into my family; sometimes I play too hard and need to hang out more at home focussing on what is important; sometimes I hang out with my family so much that I feel the need to do more work. There is never an easy answer amidst this constant ebb and flow but the whole process is busy, engaging and never boring.
Tell us about you most recent book, where did the inspiration come from?
When I first went to Mexico I had thought that Tex-Mex was the cuisine but as I ate so I was astounded to discover such an unexpected diversity of fruit and vegetables. Many years later I was to learn that Mexico is mega bio-diverse with 50,000 native plant species from herbs, greens, corn, chillies, squash plants and edible flowers to vanilla, cacao, tomatoes and beans. The more I have cooked Mexican food and learnt about the different cuisines springing up from this vast area of land the more struck I was by how modern it felt in its flexitarian essence, a diet rich in a huge range of plant-based foods balanced out with protein from nuts, seeds, insects and the occasional piece of meat or seafood. I was excited to write a cookbook showcasing the incredible flavours that can be brought to everyday fruits and vegetables, when cooking with that Mexican lens.
What is your favourite recipe in the book?
Gosh, so many! I love the salad section with all the fresh, delicious recipes packed with flavour, I love the feasting section with the one-pot dishes and some real show-stoppers. I also love the pudding section – there are some seriously yummy puddings in there.
How long does it typically take from start to finish to complete your cookbook?
Good question! Quite a bit of time. You need time to test over 100 recipes, sometimes 3 or 4 times; then you need to find time to write and the editing both of the recipes and the writing always takes longer than you think. It is quite a commitment!
One professional and one personal proudest achievement?
I do love my children. I can’t help it but I am immensely proud of them. And I am very proud that despite struggling through most of my 20s I am now working in a field that I love, and that I feel passionate about. Food is connected to everything we do and even to the air we breathe. How we eat affects our mental and physical health, it affects the health of our planet and it also holds the key to how we enjoy life. After all, breaking bread with each other is one of the simplest and purest pleasures in life.
Is there anything exciting coming up you can talk about in the new year?
I am working on some really fun projects but nothing that I can talk about yet I am afraid!
One tip to help with a New Year healthy reset?
Moving more. We are animals and we work better when we allow ourselves to be active, even if only for short bursts at a time. It is one of the great keys to enjoying life and it doesn’t matter how you fit it in: taking stairs, walking to a further station, cycling to work, anything to move a bit more brings huge rewards. And I have been subjecting myself to bursts of cold water in the shower to try to get through the greyness of January - it actually seems to be working! And banishing any thought of dieting. You can try to eat a bit better, but diets are miserable and very bad for morale.
One kitchen cupboard essential?
Olive oil and salt – please, please can I have both?
What is your everyday uniform?
I wear jeans a lot when I am cooking but I love a fun skirt when I am running around town. I think flats are probably my uniform and then the actual clothes depend hugely on my mood and what I am up to – but you can have a lot of fun with flats whether they be ankle boots, trainers or slip-ons.
What are important factors for you when picking an outfit?
I am not into fussy clothes. I love classic shapes; I love a bit of structure and I love clothes that are well made. I spend a lot of time looking in second-hand and vintage shops for beautiful pieces that I know I will wear all the time. I love an edge too – nothing too edgy but I have a fear of looking boring so love there to be something quirky in any outfit.
How would you describe your style?
Fun, interesting and designed for action.
Any style tips or advice?
Always listen to yourself if you don’t feel amazing about a purchase and send it back immediately. There is nothing worse than a bad buy lurking in your cupboard making you feel guilty. Buy good quality classic pieces that you can dress up or down that will always make you feel good and mix them up with vintage pieces with character. And have regular clear-outs of your wardrobe (sell clothes that you have looked after online but keep good pieces for your children, nieces or nephews. There is little as wonderful as a great hand-me-down).
How did you hear about Cefinn?
I read about Samantha starting the brand and then saw some of the collection online at Net-a-Porter.
Favourite pieces from Cefinn’s collection?
Last season’s knits were stunning, practical and beautiful to wear, with a smart, sharp look about them. I loved to look at all the velvets too – from the suits to the party dresses. And the new collection feels very Kristen Scott Thomas in her Slow Horses role. Really wearable and amazing quality with that edge to them.
What do you love about Cefinn?
The quality of the clothes. It feels like these are investment pieces that you will keep turning to – that is the key to great fashion.
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