In conversation: Chef Xanthe Gladstone talks about food sustainability and the future of cooking

March 7, 2021

Every now and again you stumble upon somebody who inspires you, someone who is creating something unique and doing so with a purpose, please let us introduce you to, chef, grower and director of sustainable foods, Xanthe Gladstone from North Wales. 


What is the last thing you ate?

I ate a slice of homemade sourdough with a poached egg from my hens and some sauerkraut. 


Could you tell us more about your story and how you got to the place where you are now?

After graduating from university I moved to London to start a career in food marketing. I spent a year and a half there and I found it hard. I didn’t suit London life and I didn’t feel fulfilled in my job. I made a very fast decision when my anxiety had hit rock bottom and I moved home to Wales to get my hands into the soil to grow vegetables and teach myself more about connecting with where my food comes from. Everything has gone from there! I am now two years into life in Wales and have never been happier. 


How did your passion for food and sustainability evolve? 

I have always felt quite passionate about understanding food and its affect on us and the planet and I started to read books and watch documentaries in my late teens. I was inspired by a number of people who I was lucky enough to come across and also spent times on a few farms and in restaurants where I was just endlessly inspired. The more I learn, the more I want to learn.


What are you up to and working on at the moment?

I am working on a few really exciting projects but as Spring and summer are around the corner, I am working a lot in the garden to prepare for those busy months. 


You went to Ballymaloe Cookery School and got trained in food sustainability. What did you like the most about the education experience?

The biggest thing I learnt at Ballymaloe was the complexity of living in a closed circuit system. There isn’t one stone that can be left unturned, you have to think about every element of  the food system from how you feel with waste to the organisation that goes into growing your own vegetables. 


What does food sustainability mean to you personally?

It means connecting with the seasons, understanding where your food comes from, and acknowledging the journey that the food took to get to you. Always ask questions… How was it grown? If animals were involved, were they treated well and what did they eat? How far did it travel to get to you?



Is there such a thing as “the perfect diet”? 

I think diet is completely subjective, something different works for each individual so no I don’t think there is a perfect diet. The more whole foods we can eat the better, so making food from scratch and eating lots of grains, pulses, and beans. I also think if you can, eating organic food is going to be better for our health and for the health of the planet, so trying to find organic food, especially produce, where you can is really important. 


What’s your favourite "done in 15 minutes” recipe?

Vegetable soup! Sauté onions, garlic, celery, and carrots and then add vegetable stock and the vegetables or your choice. Add a lit and let it simmer for 15 minutes, whizz up, and serve with toast! 


What are your recommendations for a healthy and balanced diet, which is also sustainable as well as good for our environment?

I slightly answered this above but connecting with where your food comes from (in supermarkets this is almost always displayed on the packet), choose organic produce if it’s financially possible for you, and if you can, choose to buy your food from independent shops. It’s a huge mood booster buying your food from these places and in independent butchers, cheese shops, and bakeries you will always most likely find really high quality ingredients that are a more sustainable option than the supermarkets offer us.


What suggestions do you have for people who are interested in food sustainability and want to learn more about it? Are there any “must reads” that you can recommend? Any great websites or podcasts to find helpful information and dive into the topic? 

I have too many to list! But to start with watch Kiss The Ground, Sustainable, Dan Barber’s episode of Chef’s Table, and then to read The Third Plate by Dan Barber, The Way We Eat Now by Bee Wilson, The New Farm by Brent Preston, my favourite podcast is Farmerama, any of their series or episodes. 


Even though we are in the middle of a pandemic and restaurants are temporarily closed, we can’t help but wonder- Where are your favourite places to dine out in your neighborhood of North Wales and in London?

I don’t often dine out in Wales but in Chester there are Covino and Hyphha, which I love. In London there are endless places I love to eat but my favourites; Petersham Nurseries, Trullo, Brawn, Portobello Pizzeria. 


What does the future of cooking look like?

As people have had a new appreciation and value of being at home, I hope more people will connect with spending more time over their food and maybe as a result connecting with where their food comes from. 


What inspires you? 



Who is your favourite role model? 

I have so many! Damian Clisby for his cooking, a friend and mentor of mine, and Karen O’Donoghue for her wisdom, guidance, and way of looking at the world of food.


Are there people that you would love to work with in the future? If yes, why? 

Again, endless! I would love to work with my friend and chef Mikkel Karstad who is a Danish chef. We were supposed to work together last year at a festival in Copenhagen which is hopefully happening this year, so we’ll see. I would love to work with anyone who has the same understanding and appreciation of food as I do and someone who I can learn from.




Can you tell us about your own beauty and wellness rituals?

Beauty and wellness are important to me. I had severe acne in my early twenties so looking after my skin is incredibly important. I put a lot of time into sourcing natural, organic skincare that my skin likes. I regularly have baths with lots of Epsom salts, oils, and dry body brushing before hand which helps with my circulation. I cover myself in my Basium Body Oil Luce afterwards which is my absolute favourite. I run regularly and do yoga and pilates which helps with my anxiety as well as keeping physically fit. I am lucky enough to live on a festival site which has a sauna, so I try to use that a couple of times a week which I absolutely love. I eat lots of good organic vegetables and whole foods, fresh herbs in tea and food, and I am a thirsty person so I drink lots of water. I get outside regularly to walk my dogs and lots of deep breathing when I am on my walks. And sleep! I need lots of sleep so I try to get 8 hours a night. Those are my main rituals! 


What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty means confidence. I feel the most beautiful when I feel like everything is functioning well from within, when my skin and digestion is good and when I’ve maybe had a bit of sun on my skin! 


What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness means calmness. I struggle with a bit of anxiety so keeping that at bay is really important. Lots of stretching, time away from my phone, and trying to talk positively to myself. 


What’s your favourite scent?



    What’s a beauty product that you could not live without?

      A good hand cream! As a gardener and a chef I suffer from really dry hands so having hand cream on me always is essential. 


      How important is sustainability in skin care and cosmetics to you? 
        It’s hugely important, I only invest in skincare and cosmetics when I can recognise all of the ingredients and know that the company prioritises well sourced, natural ingredients. 


        Do you have a particular stress management technique?

          The thing that works best for me is leaving my phone behind and going on a walk. I also use a light alarm clock rather than sound which gradually wakes me up with light and I think that helps manage my stress first thing.
          Last but not least...


          Your star sign? Cancer

          Your favourite season? Summer - there’s nothing that beats days spent in the garden in summer.

          Your favourite vegetable? Tomatoes!

          Your favourite book? The Third Plate, Dan Barber

          Your favourite place on earth? Glen Dye

          Forever favourite restaurant? A restaurant called Beast in Copenhagen.

          Do you have a personal mantra? Be kind to your future self! 

          What’s on repeat on your playlist? Running Red Lights by the Avalanches.

          Tea or coffee? Herbal tea always!

          Current obsession? Am I allowed to say my boyfriend Hugo? We’ve been together for five years and I’m still obsessed. Sorry, but it’s true! 


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