Hello Elen, can you introduce yourself?
Hello, I'm Elen Giupponi, I'm 30 years old, I live in Montpellier and I've been an independent chef specializing in vegetable cuisine for 2 years now. My little particularity is that I use plants in my kitchen, but I still eat everything!
What has been your journey as a chef?
Cooking was not obvious to me, I went to business school and started my career in an advertising agency. I have been cooking professionally for 4 years. After a burn-out I passed my CAP cuisine as a free candidate and I worked in traditional restaurants. In 2020 I had the opportunity to land a chef position during a restaurant opening and I literally felt like I had taken 10 years of culinary experience in the space of 6 months!
Then I decided to start my own business because I needed to create a tailor-made business, outside the framework of a traditional restaurant.
You have chosen a plant-based cuisine. What brought you to this universe?
Plant-based cuisine came about by initially asking me about food waste and seeing the huge amounts of meat and fish that went into a traditional restaurant. I didn't have the habit of eating meat systematically at every meal in my childhood, and I also began to wonder about the nutritional necessity of having meat products on all your plates. Little by little, I got my nose into it out of curiosity, and I accidentally discovered an extraordinary world of creativity! Today I cook plant-based for the values linked to this cuisine in terms of the environment, health and animal well-being, but also and above all because it is cooking that gives me the most joy!
I trained at the plant-based cooking school Vert la Table, the first plant-based cooking school in France for professionals.
Do you have a little advice for a hot vegetable recipe to make at home?
Send all your seasonal vegetables to the oven!
In winter: potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, celeriac, mushrooms, onions, garlic… What inspires you!
Cut into a peasant style (large dice), well massaged with olive oil, generously sprinkled with spices and herbs of your choice (the smoked paprika will remind carnivores of the taste of meat, be generous!).
I always add seeds to this dish by making a homemade gomasio (mixture of salt and sesame to which I add other roasted and coarsely mixed oilseeds such as pistachios, walnuts and pumpkin seeds…)
Oven at 180°C, about 30 to 40 minutes, and it's ready!
We serve it on a sauce made from almond puree, soy sauce and water, and it's very sweet!
The advantage of vegetables is that it is unlimited = maximum effect for minimum effort.
Can you tell us about the importance of the choice of utensils in your kitchen?
I'm on the move a lot and I “carry around” my equipment a lot, I also lend it when I do cooking classes, and I work with different people all the time, so for me the key words are: resistant and manageable.
You tend to travel quite a bit in France. Do you have 3 favorite addresses to share with us?
If one day you have the opportunity to treat yourself to a meal at Gilles Goujon in his restaurant Auberge du Vieux Puis in Fontjoncouse in the Aude, I would say that it is my favorite of the year. As much on the friendly atmosphere as the perfection of the service and the dishes.
I have an extraordinary memory of having eaten with the Meilleur family at La Bouitte in Saint Marcel, straight down from the slopes, in fluorescent pink ski pants and faux fur slippers swapped by the House in place of my ski boots. ! The meal was also wonderful. Savoyard cuisine that has been close to the heights from father to son.
Perhaps more accessible, less known but a huge favourite, I would take you to the Drome Provençale, on the edge of Vaucluse, to the restaurant Le Brigand , in Suze la Rousse, run by Chef Maxime Terrasson, of whom I have particularly liked the sensitivity in the plate.
Where will we be able to taste your recipes in the next few weeks?
On line ! I propose a challenge in January: 1 week for a 100% vegetable kitchen together!
You will receive a week before all the recipes and all the shopping lists to make an all-vegetable week, and we will meet live every evening to prepare dinner together.
All the info is here: https://elengiupponi.com/challenge-semaine-vegetale