Hi Xanthe! You’re a chef and a grower based in Wales, but last year you were working in a marketing job in London. What informed your decision to make such a big change?
I was really lucky to engage early on with the fact that I wasn’t happy and that I wanted to do something about it. Having grown up with entrepreneurial parents, I realised that I wanted to do something that could also dictate the lifestyle that I lived. I was incredibly passionate about food and sustainability, and decided that the best way I could follow that path was to leave London. It was and is scary at times, and I often have doubts when I think about how different the path I’m taking is to a lot of my friends and family, but it’s by far the best decision I’ve ever made.
You talk about the importance of education regarding food and growing. What are some of the most important things you have learnt since starting on your new path?
I’ve learnt that there’s a long way to go with food and our relationships with it. Rather than trying to educate a million people, I’d like to make small differences to the way that people think about food, where they buy it from and how they value it. Connecting more thoroughly with the people who grow and produce our food is the best way that we can have a more sustainable approach to food, it’s harder in cities, but it’s very much still possible.
If someone was interested in attending The Good Life Experience festival, how would you describe it to them? What is your involvement in it?
I’m the Director of Food and Food Sustainability for the festival which means that I run and organise the events and performances surrounding food, from choosing the right vendors to organising the line-up of chefs. The festival was co-founded by my parents, and 4/6 of my siblings work for the festival, so it’s truly a family business. We run pop-up restaurants, and have a huge campfire, where we challenge some wonderful chefs to cook on, which is always amazing fun. We also run panels and talks on topics surrounding food. We’ve been lucky to have some incredible chefs such as Honey & Co, Thomasina Miers, Anna Jones, Sandor Katz, and many others. I truly believe that the festival is the most wonderful community of people who are interested in all sorts of different things – from wild swimming to spoon whittling – who come together, learn new things, have great fun, and leave feeling inspired. Every year, although exhausted, I feel that I leave with a whole new lease of life. My experiences at The Good Life Experience really inspired me to lead the life that I’m living today.
Knuckle is the Supper Club project you co-founded. What do you hope to achieve by running supper clubs, and how can our readers get involved with them? How have they been received so far?
I co-founded Knuckle with my boyfriend, Hugo, last year. We can supper clubs with some inspiring chefs in beautiful venues, all partnered with Abel & Cole. They were really special and a wonderful way to convey the message that I am trying to spread. We were just about to start a 10 part series with the Ace Hotel when Covid meant that the hospitality industry came to a standstill, and now we are just taking some time to re-think how we want to run Knuckle and how we can safely put on supper clubs.
You write and publish your own recipes, full of fresh produce and delicious flavours. Can you suggest a recipe that would be a great place to start for someone inexperienced in the kitchen?
I created this recipe for Patricia Niven’s Chicken Soup project but swapped out chicken for mushrooms, as I cook and eat vegetarian food. It’s a delicious, easy recipe and you can swap out the shiitake mushrooms for a different type of mushrooms.
What would you like to suggest as your WFTP Hidden Gem?
Laurence, from Black Mountain Honey, is the bee-keeper that I work with here in Wales, and looks after our 28 hives. Laurence is doing amazing things and is so knowledgeable and skilled in beekeeping, as well as having a full time office job unrelated to beekeeping. I would love to see beekeepers be more in the spotlight, as their job is critical if we want to try to keep our planet in balance.
Thanks a lot for chatting to me! Let us know how we can keep up to date with what you do:
My website: https://xanthegladstone.co.uk
My Instagram: @xanthegladstone