I am not a chef, neither I have had ever professional gastronomy training but I can cook. I also believe that one can better understand the concept of sustainability, balanced life or well-being through food than through other activities.
When I was at the first Holis (and tasted the not-so-delicious food) I decided to improve this field because I truly think food is a crucial part of the whole Holis experience. Firstly, food is not just about adding calories through your mouth. It’s more like a dialogue with your body. In the other hand it could be a respectful act for your existence and a thankful act for the nature at the same time. So more or less it is a continuous balance-game between you and your environment.
We agreed that Holis will mainly follow plant based diet, try to use as many local ingredients as available and encourage every participants to think about her/himself as being part of the nature. We understand this might be challenging for those who are not used to the plant based diet but we think this is part of the Holis experience and strongly connected to our values.
And now, let me write about what happened this year: As mainly the kitchen leader I had a really-really intense 10 days with tons of spontaneous decisions when I learned a lot about myself especially how to react for unexpected actions. Nevertheless I can honestly say I enjoyed the time and even though the kitchen team was a bit isolated from the teams we enjoyed being together and mostly had a great time and fun. Really. The most joyful moment was when I saw all of the people sitting along the long tables and eating, laughing, chatting. I hope my team of three helpful and hard worker young talents felt the same way. They have helped me a lot and hopefully have learned not just about cooking but how to collaborate, be creative and solve problems.
When I prepared the menu my plan was to keep the balance between local and global recipes. In this process my biggest help was a fantastic local chef, Ania, who cooked the lunches at Holis and provided some local recipes (and adapted herself to the plant based diet too). I might be wrong but I guess most of the Holis participants enjoyed very much her superb pirogi workshop in one of the mornings (when we made more than 350 pieces and ate all of them for lunch):
My recipes based on the knowledge what I learned from Ottholengi (Jerusalem, Plenty), Green Kitchen Stories, or more recently Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat cookbooks and of course from my lifetime cooking experiences with my mum, friends and my husband.
Whenever I travel I try to learn something new to cook. A local recipe helps me to understand the local soul and history. Whenever I cook a dish that I’ve learned somewhere I share the local knowledge and love . If it was not obvious I can tell: to bring and share love is extremely important for me. That’s why I am cooking still at Holis.
And this is the reason for establishing a tradition at Holis by baking a challah bread on the last Friday and ask our local hosts to cut it. The baking is a symbolic action of bringing our knowledge, openness and respect for the locals and cutting it together is the symbol of doing something new in partnership. Hand in hand. For a common good.
I am truly thankful for the trust and openness what I received and receive from the participants and hopefully everybody got a bit more joy being alive, love their own body and mind, share what they learned during these 10 days and of course: will come back to another Holis!
Ps: Now I am working on the Holis cookbook which hopefully will help other summer schools, camps and little communities to follow plant based diet and love ourselves and nature at the same time.