Chef-artist Kaitlyn Reinhart grew up playing in fields and forests in her native Canada. Fascinated for as long as she can remember by vegetables, herbs, plants and flowers and all...

Kaitlyn Reinhart
Cooking with plants in all its splendor

Chef-artist Kaitlyn Reinhart grew up playing in fields and forests in her native Canada. Fascinated for as long as she can remember by vegetables, herbs, plants and flowers and all the different flavors they had to offer, she found in cooking a way to express her love for nature, but also her personality and her creativity. Today based in Paris, where she opened the vegetarian café Otium, Kaitlyn is committed to creating simple, delicate, and delicious recipes full of beauty and poetry that help us connect to the Earth and develop into our true selves.

We recently asked her to create a recipe inspired by our Summer Hydrating Mist, and she came up with the most refreshing and tasty dessert. Follow her instructions and enjoy!

 

Tell us a bit about yourself? How do you like to describe yourself and your practice?

I started cooking professionally later in my life, at the age of 29, self-taught. I co-founded a cold press juice company that quickly transformed into a small vegetarian/vegan café in the 9th arrondissement in Paris, Otium. French philosopher Michel Foucault said that ‘otium’ is part of the development of self, the time that we sacrifice for our inner well-being. When we are eating, I think we should be aware of what the food is doing for us, and how it is making our bodies work. When I eat and cook, it’s a moment of compilation, introspection and creativity.

 

What are your earliest memories of cooking?

My parents were always cooking, everything was homemade and they cooked very well. Their famous dish was herb burgers (meat patties with all the herbs of the garden mixed in) with a very garlicky Caesar salad that would slightly sting my mouth. My mum has a green thumb, growing many vegetables and herbs in her extravagant gardens. My father taught me that the plating and visual of a dish is 80% of the work!

 

 

Where does your passion for plants come from? How did you first get into foraging ?

Probably my mum. I grew up playing in fields and forests, and I was also a vegetarian at a young age. I was searching for flavor and was fascinated by all the different flavors plants had to offer. Plants for me are not mere decoration but condiments that help elevate the flavor in a dish. In Paris, you can do some urban foraging but it was mostly on vacation where I started to forage, discovering new plants, regions and food culture of the country I was visiting. At the start of the pandemic and after closing my café, I had a physical and emotional urge to connect to the Earth. During the second confinement in France, I worked for six months in a vegetable garden. From there, I started meeting and working with more farmers and professional foragers. I haven’t stopped since!

 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from plants ?

Plants have helped me see that it is not without the immense care and energy that we put forth into our personal growth and wellness that we can develop into our true selves. The seed will not grow without the sun, the rain and the tender hand of its gardener.

 

 

You often mention there’s a connection between food and spirituality. Could you explain a bit further? How does food play a role in our well-being?

Cooking has always been a form of meditation for me. When I’m cooking I’m not thinking of anything else, thoughts come and go freely. Food also brings people together. When gathered in groups to eat, we feel a sense of community, less lonely. We can find the answers to the littlest or biggest questions we might have about life or our day during conversations at the dinner table. The food we eat should make us happy and healthy, it should show us that we are living fully, responsibly and well. I have always believed that what we eat is undoubtedly linked to our happiness. We are not only nourishing our bodies but also our minds.

 

There’s also a relationship between food and our skin.

When we talk about skincare it is hard not to make the connection between what we eat and our skin. The quality of the exterior products we use on our skin is equally important to the quality of the food we consume. A balanced diet should be the starting point of any skincare routine.

 

 

What routines help you keep grounded on your day to day?

I actually physically ground myself by taking off my shoes and walking on the grass, in the dirt or in a field and if you can’t access these things, the sidewalk works too! Nadi Shodhana (alternative nasal breathing) and yoga are also essential to keeping me grounded because they transform my nervous, anxious energy into centered and productive strength, leaving me mentally alert but in a relaxed state.

 

I read in an interview that you think of food as an art form. Please, tell us a bit more about that.

I love this quote: from French philosopher François de la Rochefoucauld: “To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art”. (Funny anecdote, my café was on the street de la Rochefoucauld). I believe that eating is one of the arts of life! When I started cooking, I was trying to see what other people did and thought that’s what I had to do but I realized that cooking could be a form of personal expression and that I just needed to do my own thing. I would always have an interest in art, music, nature, and I wanted to express that in the food I made. It was about my own process and getting inspired by it.

 

 

How do you keep yourself inspired?

Reading and traveling!

 

Where would you like to take your practice to?

Right now, I am continuing to learn more about foraging and plants in all their splendor but I do dream of having a vegetable garden of my own! Maybe also doing more retreats surrounding foraging and cooking or yoga/spirituality and cooking.

 

What’s the most important thing on a summer table?

Olive oil!

 

And what about summer ingredients? Do you have some favorites? Could you share one of your recipes for the season?

Fig leaves! They are also one of my favorite things to forage in the summer months! If you rub a fig leaf between your fingers, you’ll get this amazing aroma of coconut, pear and vanilla. I absolutely love this fragrance! When I am infusing fig leaves, I want to stand in my kitchen for hours until the smell dissipates. We all know of their fruit but don’t think about the beauty and nutritional value of their leaves.

As per the recipe, I’ve created a dessert inspired by ROWSE’s Summer Hydrating Mist super-fresh texture, color and aroma. I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

RECIPE

Apricot compote with carrot granita, fig leaf Chantilly,
wild carrot flowers and young leaves

 

Serves 6 - 8

1 of bunch of carrots
25cl of whipping cream
3-4 fig leaves
450g of apricots
40g of sugar
1/4 tsp of vanilla
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 strip of lemon zest
2 tbsp of water

 

Heat your whipping cream in a saucepan over medium heat making sure not to boil. Once heated, take the saucepan off the stove and add around 3 to 4 fig leaves. Leave to infuse for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge. Remove fig leaves and whip the cream with a mixer or by hand until light and fluffy.

 

 

Using a juicer, juice one bunch of carrots. Pour the juice into a baking dish or cake pan, large enough that the juice doesn’t sit too high. Put the pan into the freezer. After 20 minutes, start to scrape the juice with a fork. Do this every 20 minutes until the texture is like small ice crystals that are crisp rather than chunky and icy. Mine froze to the right texture after 1 hour.

For the compote, remove the pits from the apricots by gently tearing the fruit in half. Add the pitted apricot halves, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and water to a medium saucepan and stir gently to combine. Cook the mixture on medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and the apricots begin to release their juices. Turn the heat up to medium and gently simmer the apricots, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft and beginning to fall apart, but not completely mushy. About 10-15 minutes.

 

 

Wild carrots can be recognized by a tiny dark purple floret in the middle of their white flower. Wild carrot is also known as Queen Anne's lace as it is said to have been named after Queen Anne of England, known as an expert lace maker. Legend says that while crafting away, Queen Anne pricked herself with a needle and a single drop of blood fell from her finger onto the lace, leaving a dark purple spot! I also like their young leaves that are tender enough to eat and have a nice pink color.

 

 

Photography by Flavia Sistiaga

 

 

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