Bettina specialises in plant-based (vegan) and ‘free-from’ recipes, and is a passionate advocate for plants. Using easy, straightforward principles and local produce, she creates food that simply makes you feel good – all grown seasonally, and nurtured with love.
Working in recipe development for high-profile brands and the hospitality industry, her ethos centres on unravelling the abundant potential of plant foods. Having already written two acclaimed cookbooks – Happy Food and 7 Day Vegan Challenge – Celebrate is her third labour of love to hit the shelves. As the name suggests, it’s a celebration of plant-based recipes that can cater to absolutely everyone at a festivity, without compromising on flavour.
Her books have received glowing reviews in The Times, The Guardian, and Metro – and her sparkling personality and fuss-free approach has landed her commercial slots on everything from The Food Network with Laphroaig Whisky, to recurring appearance on ITV’s James Martin’s Saturday Morning.
These days, you’ll often find her hosting her own retreats in Bali, as well as collaborating as head chef and host for retreat company Reclaim Yourself in incredible destinations around the world – with Ecuador and India coming up next on the itinerary.
She also runs her legendary quarterly Retreat Chef Academy – a 7-day sell-out course that sees her pass on her wisdom, experience and expertise to aspiring chefs, to help them travel the world, live their dream, and enjoy playing with different cuisines, flavour and varieties.
Right now she’s also working on her newest exciting venture, The Retreat Agency, with Reclaim Yourself co-founder Jools. Watch this space for more!
A passion for food: the early days
Bettina’s love of food originated from her multicultural childhood. Born in Denmark, she lived in Tanzania for the first 11 years of her life – and after that, in Sweden. In Tanzania, she would often go to the food markets with her mother to pick fruits and vegetables, and she quickly learned the art of haggling for the best quality and price. She’d also visit small farms, and would sit in the back of the car with a bucketful of fresh milk, which her mother would
magically turn into butter, cream and yoghurt.
She learned early on that good things were worth waiting for. Her father would spend hours getting all the ingredients ready, meticulously organised between sips of wine and chatting – all the while making sure that each element of the dish was cooked just right.
Holidays were often spent in Bulgaria with her grandmother and auntie, who were both amazing cooks. She would sit at the kitchen table at her auntie’s house, watching her make pineapple upside-down cake, crème brûlée, stews, and breads baked from scratch, for the feasts that would be conjured up on their arrival.
Summers in Sweden would see her spending time with her other grandmother – another amazing cook with green fingers, who had all sorts of wonders growing in her garden, and a tiny summerhouse in the woods. Jams, cordials and pickling were her speciality.
“I come from the sort of family that doesn’t remember visits to museums or art galleries,” says Bettina. “Instead, my holiday memories are filled with dishes, markets and food experiences. We travelled extensively as a family, gathering food memories, and that’s stayed with me to this day. I love travelling, sampling and experiencing different cultures and countries through food. There are untold stories everywhere, and they’re such a huge part of our lives. It’s magic, really – and that’s how I initially caught the food bug, which has blossomed into a life-encompassing passion that won’t be going anywhere soon.”
The beginning of Bettina’s Kitchen
With a BBA in Hotel Management & Business, and study in Switzerland, Ireland and Spain, Bettina started off her culinary career front-of-house. That background helped immensely when she entered the wellness industry in 2011, and began running health retreats in Spain, and later all over the world.
“For me, cooking became a way of inspiring people to include and cook with ingredients that can sometimes seem daunting. I wanted to show how food could be inspiring, and where it comes from, and that cooking from scratch is the single most powerful thing you can do for yourself and your family. The retreats were the initial stage in spreading that
Reinventing herself as a retreat cook, Bettina’s hobby quickly transformed into a career as a chef specialising in plant-based cuisine. From here, she began to focus on gluten-free and ‘free-from’ recipes – which today form the foundations of her cooking. She went on to study at the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy, in Los Angeles, to expand her cooking skills and knowledge, and learn the culinary arts. She also travelled extensively, to discover how other cultures cook and use plant foods. She began sharing recipes on Instagram – and slowly but surely, people wanted more. Bettina’s Kitchen was born!
Bettina’s Kitchen today
Bettina’s Kitchen encompasses food, yoga and mindfulness retreats, plant-based cooking workshops, recipe development, food writing, the Retreat Chef Academy and her cookbooks.
“Everything I do honours my own beliefs about food and wellness, and aligns with my philosophies,” Bettina explains. “I believe that, wherever possible, we should eat seasonally, locally, and from farm to table. We should support small businesses within our communities, and use roots, shoots and all – as cooking waste-free is particularly important to me. We should also let our veggies do the talking. The best plant food is fuss-free, simple, easy, inexpensive, and speaks for itself.”
Bettina’s knowledge of, and passion for, plant-based foods continue to grow, and she’s constantly on the hunt for delicious solutions to challenge the belief that eating plants is boring, expensive and time-consuming.
“I hope that I can inspire you to incorporate more plants in your diet, give a starting point for your journey, and show you just how easy cooking with plants can be. Now’s the time begin positively influencing the next generation in sourcing local ingredients, preserving traditions, respecting the seasons, and cooking from scratch.
“And last but not least, I’m here to celebrate food, life, friendships, and all things good in the world!”
– Bettina regularly runs all kinds of pop-up dinners and events, retreats, and plant-based workshops for both large and small groups.
Recipes and content creation:
– Content creation for brands like Vitamix, Planet Organic, Sainsburys, Odysea, Abel and Cole, Belvedere, Marks and Spencer’s and Waitrose, to name but a few.
– Weekly veggie column for Country & Town House.
– Monthly column for Spanish magazine, Society.
– Articles for Suitcase Magazine, video content for GQ (UK), Tastemade, TOAST, Hazel Wallace, Metro, Conde Naste and Jamie Oliver’s YouTube channel.
– Podcast host – ‘What the Focaccia?!’ with fellow cookbook author, Niki Webster, featuring sustainability, seasonality and local produce at the heart of every episode. Guests include The Happy Pear, Melissa Hemsley, Dr Rupy Aujla and Gizzi Erskine.
– Borough Market Christmas Kitchen.
– Judging on Marie Claire’s Sustainability Festival.
– Judge for Veggie magazine.
– Bettina regularly caters for private events, and as host for well-known (but confidential) private clients.
– Styling for all 3 of her cookbooks, as well as her social media and blog channels
– Consulting and recipe development for food and beverage companies like Bond Well, and West Mill.
– Wellness menus for Ham Yard Hotels
– Bettina is the brand ambassador for Vitamix, and will be launching online versions of her in-person workshops in October 2021, covering everything from cheese-making workshops, to plant-based tips, tricks and know-how.