All behind @soulinthekitchen

Meet the chef Claudia Polo

This Christmas, we've approached to Claudia, the owner of @soulinthekitchen Instagram account, so that she could make a sustainable recipe with the Christmas' leftovers. We already loved her content and recipes, but what we didn't know is the background there is behind. Here's more about Claudia and her path, from her roots while living the after-dinner conversations with her family, until her daily projects, all of them focused in cooking and nature.

Hi Claudia, thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to interview you :)

We would like to start by the beginning. We know that you studied at the Basque Culinary Center.

When did you realize you loved so much cooking and food that you wanted to study there?

Food has always been something important in my house. Without realizing, the preparations, the sitting at the table together, the after-dinner conversation... were really important in my family, and that has taken root in me. Before starting high school I knew about the University and, maybe it was just a childish whim, but it was clear to me that I wanted to study there. So that's where I went.

I guess it was first the unconscious importance that I soaked up from my family that made me start in this and the conscious knowledge about the environment that made me stay. Now, the more I know, the more passionate I am about it.

When do you start sharing your recipes and knowledge via Instagram? Why do you decide to do it?

I started doing it very innocently in first grade. I uploaded photos and recommended songs. I liked the photography thing, so I took it seriously. As the community grew, I became more serious and disciplined about it.

As before, the beginning was unconscious. Now I continue because I believe in what I do, I consider that I educate and train people in a rich, healthy and sustainable way, so that's what motivates me to be there.

"Eating goes far beyond ingesting food. It's about the product, its origin, its production, the people who are part of the chain."

What is the philosophy behind @soulinthekitchen? How do you personally understand the act of eating?

Eating goes far beyond ingesting food. It's about the product, its origin, its production, the people who are part of the chain. It's about the impact it has on the planet and on culture... Knowing the implications of food and cooking makes us aware, and once we are aware, we are able to make better choices.

In your profile, you not only share recipes but also talk about conscious cooking, sustainable consumption or how to take advantage of food before throwing it away. Why do you think it is important to educate or transmit this knowledge to people?

As I said before, education makes us aware and able to choose and buy. Food is a sector that has a huge impact on a social, economic and environmental level... so the decisions that are made about it are essential.

Unfortunately, the trend is to cook less, to use precooked food, home delivery... There is no longer the culture of cooking at home, of learning from your mother and grandmother and, although that means positive things regarding the feminist struggle, it has worrying consequences for our gastronomic culture, our health and of our planet.

Throughout the last months, we have seen that you have developed several projects, such as the book 'Mañanitas y Rituales', the Fruit and Vegetable Calendar, the @pansoul__ project or the retreats in the Pyrenees. Could you tell us a little bit about each of them?

Mañanitas is a self-published book with Blasina Rocher, I would say the most difficult and ambitious project I've done so far. A lot of work for us to swallow. And we've already printed 4500 units... so we are happy.

Pan Soul is a restaurant we created together with Orchestra Kitchen. Sourdough sandwiches, good cheeses and original recipes. It is in Madrid and can be ordered to take away or home delivery. It has been very nice to create a brand from 0, work on the branding, the proposal... now we have to work hard to make it grow.

And the retreats were the most beautiful part of my work: bringing people together in nature, cooking together, learning about the land, the processes... It was the crudest expression of my project. Now it's a bit on hiatus -I've had to dedicate myself to other projects-, but I hope to be able to resume it soon.

The calendar is the last material project that I have developed together with the illustrator Maiky Maik. It is a calendar of fruits and vegetables where the importance of time is the passing of the seasons. It is a piece of decoration, learning and enjoyment.

Apart from cooking and food, what other ways do you like to take care of yourself?

Mostly through cosmetics, body and face products. I just buy natural cosmetics, I make my own oils... I'm very herbal, and I like to look for ways to take care of myself and immunize my body based on nature. Prioritizing my mental health is also another way of taking care of myself. I allow myself, I understand myself... when I've needed it I've gone to therapy, and that's putting myself first.

We are fans of your sustainable recipes. Can you give us 3 tips to make a smart and sustainable weekly shopping?

1. Before going out, look at what you already have at home! Especially the products in the fridge that can go bad. The first thing we have to cook is that.

2. Do not always buy the same thing, be guided by the season and by what is on the market.

3. Reduce the consumption of meat. With 1-2 servings a week is more than enough. Better to buy good quality, extensive livestock and sustainable production and eat less.

What breakfast, lunch and dinner would be like in your perfect day? You can also tell us what other activities you would do during that day ;)

For breakfast, toast with cheese, kimchi and scrambled eggs. Sriracha on top. And good coffee. For lunch, a good pasta with tomato and mussels and to accompany a salad of roasted vegetables with citrus vinaigrette. And for dinner, a minestrone soup with a few white beans and parmesan cheese. Or sushi, if you catch me in the middle of the night.

What I do most (besides working a lot) is see my friends and go to concerts. I'm a vermouth subscriber and I always want to go dancing. I like movies and watching films, and also reading. I try to do sports, so a couple of times a week I go to the gym to move around a bit.

A quick catch up!

Sweet or savory? Mmmm I'm a 50/50. But I have a very sweet tooth.

If you could only eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life, which one would it be? If I can choose any one? Asador Etxebarri.

The drink that makes you happiest. Coffee, but good coffee.

Favorite meal of the day? Breakfast.

A food that takes you back to childhood? Zucchini frittata.

A food or food that you previously hated and now love? Melon.

And conversely, a food or food that you've grown to dislike or don't like so much anymore? I can't stand bad tomatoes, I get goosebumps.

First thing you do when you wake up in the morning: wash my face and make coffee.

Celebrity crush? Matthew Healy

City or country? I'm a city girl who wants to go to the country.

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Living up to your Fruit and Vegetable Calendar, what is your favorite food month of the year? Whew, tough one. I'd say April: fresh peas, byssalts, artichokes, fresh asparagus... These are vegetables that taste like spring.

Favorite Instagram account right now? I'd say @pierceabernathy.

F*ck, marry, kill: avocado, bread, sun-dried tomatoes. I marry bread, sun-dried tomatoes to bed and avocado I kill it hahaha.

And finally, any dream project that you would love to accomplish, either in the workplace or personally?

Now I want to learn regenerative agriculture and permaculture. So planning where and when to do it!

Thank you so much Claudia!