“Our food is as healthy as the soil it grows on.”
Good news for all vegetarians, vegans, eco warriors, and animal lovers out there! We know it gets frustrating—whether you have been in the scene for a long time now or are starting on a healthy and guilt-free lifestyle—when you head out to grab something to eat but all the fastfood out there involves meat, or when you go to the grocery and most of the “healthy and environmental stuff” are way beyond your budget. And when you finally decide to prepare your own meals so you can control what goes in it and how it is made, you find yourself repeating the same recipes since, really, there aren’t many options out there.
When in Manila, the culinary scene can get a bit disappointing, especially for those looking for a specific genre and method of food preparation. For a country that is predominantly populated by meat lovers, vegetarian, vegan, and pescetarian dishes can get limited and very difficult to chance upon. If you fall under any of these categories, you would most probably have already resorted to preparing your own meals due to lack of food choices, but then again, because of lack of information and discussion on the topic, you will most likely have eaten the same thing you had the day before.
Annie’s Kitchen has become a big blessing for health and environmental enthusiasts living in Katipunan. As the President and Founder of Cravings and the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA), Ms. Annie Guerrero was able to set up Annie’s Kitchen as yet another addition to her legacy of 29 years of “putting [her advocacy] into action”.
I was able to attend the second session of Annie’s Green Kitchen Workshop, a four-part workshop divided into four sessions centered around microgreens, zero waste cooking, kombucha, and edible landscaping, respectively.
The second session on Zero Waste Cooking started with Ms. Annie saying how “fermentation is the biggest industry in the world”, giving examples such as wine, cheese, dairy, bread, and organic vinegar, which was what our session for the day was going to be about. She then talked about the importance of spirit, time, energy, material, and space (or STEMS) in “green chefmanship”, a type of culinary art dedicated to preserving and conserving the environment.
After giving a short review on microgreens and a sneak peek of the next session on Kombucha Magic, or the “elixir of life”, she then proceeded to give a hands-on demonstration of how to make your very own vinegar using material from fruits that we usually discard like pineapple skin and apple core.
Although the fermentation process would take at least two months, we were able to have a taste of the previous batch of pineapple vinegar. And, wow, it is the best vinegar I have ever tasted! It was a nice type of sour, with a kick of spice, but it did not feel unhealthy at all! Aside from pineapple parts, other fruits can be used to make your very own vinegar too, such as apple or banana (but you can’t mix fruits per batch, you have to stick to one!).
After the workshop on Zero Waste Cooking, we capped the day off with a delicious meal straight from Ms. Annie’s very own garden. And yes, she made use of the microgreens from the previous week’s session to add that crunch to an already healthy and savory meal.
This is only the second of a series of workshops to further promote the latest edition to her life’s work of green chefmanship, Annie’s Kitchen, which opened March 9, earlier this year. Annie’s Kitchen is an offshoot of her first restaurant, Cravings, but is focused on dishes that involve a lot of greens, fruits, and organic methods prepared with a lot of heart and thought poured into it.
When asked what made her decide to set up another establishment, she said it was to further “increase awareness regarding conservation, edible landscaping, helping out green culinary scholars (in terms of employment as chefs), and to advocate zero waste all in one place.” She also adds that the environment is an aspect that needs a lot more improvement on in the Philippines, citing that we have actually had an Ecological Solid Waste Management Act in place for 17 years but only 20-30% of the entire Philippines follows its rules on segregation.
Although already deeply involved and passionate in saving the environment and cooking up new health-infused recipes, Ms. Annie continues to find ways to make her kitchen and her businesses more zero waste. Aside from segregating, “preparing only what you can consume”, and buying not, buying less, and buying green, Annie’s Kitchen also accepts empty PET bottles to utilize as eco bricks (or improvised foundations where a plastic bottle, usually 1.5L, is packed with plastic and non-biodegradable trash) later on. Plans to continue training on green chefmanship are also underway so that she can eventually build a core of environmental culinary advocates. She also hopes to set up her own garden in Kaingin, called Annie’s Garden, where all ingredients for her restaurants will be sourced from.
“From farm to table” – this has been Cravings’ motto ever since, and one that Ms. Annie will be living out for a long time. What started out as a neighborhood rave has now become an empire of restaurants serving fresh, quality, healthy, and cost-efficient meals. And what started out as an advocacy has now become a reality.
40 Esteban Abada St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City
Open everyday from 10AM-7pm