Chef Gemma Ogston of Gems Wholesome Kitchen give us the lowdown on her plant based business


Aside from ‘Dry January’ there’s an increasing trend at the beginning of the year to encourage us to detox and observe a clean eating diet. What’s the difference between the two and isn’t this something we should adopt the whole year round?

A detox plan is a short term plan that will kick start an internal cleansing process to remove toxins from the body. It can be extreme as you cut out many foods from your diet all at once but the results are great and you will feel fantastic afterwards.

Personally, I do not use the term ‘clean eating‘ as I worry it can encourage the rise of eating disorders – especially with young women – and also can promote cutting out whole food groups such as carbohydrates which are so important in a healthy balanced diet. As a teenager, I was anorexic so I really try and promote healthy and wholesome eating which will improve mind, body and soul.

I cook and eat a whole food plant-based diet which is centred on cooking using unrefined foods, plants and whole grains. Eating well has become a way of life for me and by including even one or two plant based meals a week in your diet throughout the year, you will improve your health.

You promote a vegan diet. How long have you been a vegan, what were your reasons behind becoming vegan and how difficult is it for anyone living a busy lifestyle to be vegan?

Gem’s Wholesome Kitchen promotes plant-based eating and wholesome food. I follow a plant-based diet which Is slightly different from vegan as it does not include any processed or refined foods such as white flour or sugar.

I gave up eating meat four years ago. This was due to my feelings towards animal cruelty and also environmental issues. Cutting out other foods was a natural progression but I still cook my children eggs and I eat honey, so I do not say I am vegan. I feel so much better for it and can’t remember the last time I was unwell and anyone that knows me can vouch I am full of energy all of the time.

How did you start up Gems Wholesome Kitchen and had you looked at other places to work in the UK or was Brighton the obvious choice?

I lived in Barcelona for two years before moving to Brighton where I started making granola and raw energy balls for local cafés, and the brilliant ethical supermarket Hisbe.

The business has grown by word-of-mouth, and Instagram, and it’s now thriving. A few people asked if I could cook personal meal plans for them and the catering side has grown from there.

Brighton is an incredible city to live and work in and I have been supported so much by other local businesses and clients. Endorsing my work and giving me shout-outs on social media has helped my business grow. Without this support, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s just so encouraging to feel supported when you are new business.

Your recent pop-up events have been sell-outs. Do you have more planned for 2018?

I have been lucky enough to find a wonderful partner for my pop-ups called Nicola who runs the Kleen Kitchen in Brighton. She makes raw vegan deserts and is super talented. Together, we put on pop up supper clubs offering my wholesome food and her wonderful raw deserts.

Our last pop up was a huge success and we have one planned on 5 February at the Ginger Man restaurant in Norfolk Square, which sold out in 48 hours so we’re pretty excited to say the least. It’s going to be fantastic working with Pamela and Ben Mckellar who will be pairing wines to our five course plant-based feast.

We will announce our next pop-up later in February, but I also cook and make personal meal plans for individuals so please get in touch if you would like to try my food.

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