5 minutes with Camilla Fayad

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5 minutes with Camilla Fayad

The founder of plant-based London restaurant Farmacy, chats about her new cook book and shares her two favourite recipes.

WelleCo (W): What is the ethos behind your restaurant Farmacy?

Camilla Fayad (CF): Our mission at Farmacy is to help raise consciousness around food. We are part of a community promoting a healthy lifestyle. This is a movement that promotes plant-based, organic eating and a chemical-free approach to increase health and wellness for both us and the planet.

We are supporters of using education and information to create conversations on wellness, conscious eating, responsible food growing practice and sustainability. We work hard to evolve and innovate constantly and keep moving to be better at what we do best.

We chose the name ‘FARM’acy as it incorporates our belief that ‘Food is Medicine (Hippocrates), as well as emphasising our obsession with the provenance of food and organic farming. All of the food that we serve at Farmacy is 100% plant-based, organic, GMO, refined sugar and chemical-free. We have always supported sustainable and local farming and have recently also cultivated our own Farmacy Kitchen Garden - a biodynamic plot of land in Kent, that grows vegetables and herbs for the restaurant.

The garden initiative has been hugely educational for the whole Farmacy team. Having harnessed their understanding of provenance and biodynamics, there are now many ingredients on the menu that have been replaced with more sustainable alternatives. Every element is carefully considered to ensure maximum sustainability, even the electric van that makes the deliveries. 

Farmacy via @farmacyuk

W: Farmacy spearheaded London’s vegan-restaurant scene. How did you come up with the idea to open it?

CF: Following several years of extensive research into various elements of conscious eating, from nutrition to sustainability, I decided to open Farmacy, a place where I could share my philosophy on nutrition and help bring the conscious eating revolution to London.

My aim with Farmacy, was to make healthy eating fun, in a beautiful setting. To create a welcoming space that would appeal to everyone - not just those already following a plant-based lifestyle. It is for this reason that our menu is so diverse, featuring many choice comfort foods such as our ‘Farmacy Burger’, ‘Nachos’ and ‘Nice Cream Sundae’ - some of which are indeed our best sellers. At Farmacy we champion the notion that ‘food is medicine’ and as such we count chemicals, not calories.

A lot of people expect plant-based food to be boring, but Farmacy was an opportunity to show people that plant-based food can be delicious and exciting. Many of the dishes on our menu have surprised customers, showing how tasty and indulgent plant-based food can be by using lesser-known ingredients such as macadamia nuts to create a ‘cheese’. 

We are now often referred to as the ‘friendly face’ of plant-based eating in London - which is great!

W: Did you grow up eating a plant-based diet, and if not, when did you start?

CF: I was inspired to turn vegetarian after the birth of my daughter and then later began to follow a plant-based diet after the birth of my son. Having explored different ways of wellness, I had learnt that a plant-based diet could lead to increased energy levels, improved digestion, radiant skin, and even weight loss. Since I’ve began following a 100% plant-based diet I feel much more energised!


W: What is the philosophy behind your new book Farmacy Kitchen Cookbook? Is it for established vegans only or can carnivores learn a thing or two about plant-based eating?

CF: I decided to create the Farmacy Kitchen Cookbook as I was keen to be able to share the Farmacy philosophy and ethos with a wider audience. We are often asked by clients for recipes for dishes that they have tried in the restaurant, and we loved the idea that with a book, we would be able to make some of our favourites, [as well as some exciting new ones] more easily accessible for everyone to enjoy.

The philosophy behind the book and what we feel makes it unique, is that it not just provides inspirational ideas for plant-based eating, but also to teaches you to live and eat in a more conscious way, whilst eating with nature’s best ingredients.

We are supporters and promoters of recipes that are good for both us and the planet, and as such the introduction to the book includes both important information on how to best prepare meals and individual ingredients, [so that you are able to harness the most nutritional value from them], but also where to source them from, and how to store them etc [there is a whole section on ‘becoming a conscious consumer’] - in order to be as kind as possible to the planet too.

Taking better care of the land and people who grow ingredients is part of the ethos of Farmacy, bringing attention back to nature, simplicity and balance.  We follow the concept of ‘simple abundance’ using fresh, colourful and whole foods in innovative combinations for maximum taste, digestion and enjoyment.

W: Do you create your own recipes or work with a team?

CF: I work very closely with the executive chef team at Farmacy on all elements of menu innovation.

From the way we prepare dishes [we take the time to sprout all our grains and pulses overnight to make each dish more enjoyable, easily digestible], to the way we combine ingredients used in dishes [to ensure that guests intake as many nutrients as possible when eating them], to the new superfoods and natural remedies that we regularly research and choose to add to both our food and drink offerings - everything is very carefully thought through.

W: What is next for Farmacy?

CF: In the next few years we are keen to open several other Farmacy Kitchen sites across London, and eventually expand the brand worldwide - so watch this space!

W: What is your favourite dish in the book?

CF: That’s a tough one! Probably the Pitaya Tart and Okra - they are great served together for a family meal.


OKRA CAPONATA

Inspired by the Sicilian classic recipe, this dish replaces aubergine with okra and adds some flavours that take it to new heights. Okra is rich in vitamins and minerals and supplies healthy doses of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It’s great for fibre, too. The turmeric has bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties and is anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. Great served hot, cold or at room temperature, this tastes even better the next day.

(GF NF VG) 

½ onion, chopped

1 celery stick, leaves attached, chopped

2 tablespoon coconut oil

500g (1lb 2oz) okra, chopped into

1cm (½in) slices

1 teaspon ground turmeric

1 garlic clove, chopped

300g (10½oz) fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon capers

8 black olives, pitted and halved

2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tsp coconut nectar

Salt

Place the onion and the celery in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon

of the coconut oil and sauté over a low heat until translucent.

Add the okra and another tablespoon of coconut oil and sauté

for 6–8 minutes.

Add the turmeric and garlic and sauté for a further minute. Add the tomatoes, stir and cover the saucepan. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 6 minutes, or until the okra is tender.

Remove from the heat and add the capers, olives, vinegar and coconut nectar. Stir and check the seasoning. This dish can be served hot, at room temperature or refrigerator cold.

SERVES 6.


PITAYA TART

This is the prettiest pink tart we’ve ever seen. Pitaya is also known as dragon fruit.

It is loaded with nutrients, including vitamin C, calcium and phytonutrients and is also rich

in antioxidants. This raw, intensely colourful tart is quick to make and will look stunningon any table.

(GF R VG)

FOR THE CRUST

140g (5oz) almonds

6 dates

30g (1oz) coconut flour

¼ tsp vanilla powder

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

pinch of salt

FOR THE FILLING

260g (9½oz) cashews, soaked (see page 49)

200g (7oz) frozen pitaya

1½ teaspoon lemon juice

4 tablespoons maple syrup

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

blackberries and blueberries, to serve 

To make the crust, put the nuts and the dates in a food processor and blend until they are broken down and combined. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and process until well combined. 

Line a 20cm (8in) round tart tin with greaseproof paper and fill it with the crust, pressing it down to form an even layer over the base and up the sides. Put it in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

For the filling, rinse the cashews and drain them well. Put in a blender with all the other ingredients except the coconut oil. Blend until you have a smooth consistency. Then slowly pour in the coconut oil, still blending.

Take the tart tin out of the freezer and pour the filling over the crust. Return to the freezer for about 3 hours, until set.

Take the tart out of the freezer and defrost for 20 minutes at room temperature (or 1 hour in the refrigerator) before serving with the purple berries.

This will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

SERVES 12.