UAE resident Olivia Manner is no ordinary foodie. She has a story that has influenced both her passion and ingenuity for sharing food. Growing up in Finland in the '80s, Manner experienced a limited culture of cuisine that was incomparable to the UAE’s current cacophony of concepts.
Her grandfather, a French prisoner of war who cooked for the incarcerated, created food based on the scarcity of ingredients that were available. Following the end of the war, this appreciation for the simplest of ingredients was passed down through the younger generations, who enjoyed the colours and flavours they had learned to derive from limited resources.
This attention to detail and the philosophy of respecting and understanding ingredients grew into a mission, becoming an essential core of Manner’s approach to food.
“The ingredients that we have become so accustomed to enjoying today – the likes of avocados and pomegranates, for example - simply were not available during my childhood in Finland. As a result, we had to become masters in preparing the simple things that we could get our hands on, often potatoes and tomatoes, in my case. It taught me that ingredients do not need to be expensive nor particularly exotic – the simplest things can create the most beautiful dishes,” she says.
In 2015, Manner, stimulated by the smells, sounds and sparks that make a vibrant kitchen, launched Hello Chef. The concept was simple: Each week, UAE customers receive a package of ingredients with a simple set of instructions for cooking that allow residents to feed themselves and their families with healthy, tasty, tempting and nutritious meals.
“There are so many meanings to the phrase ‘healthy food’ – but that just makes this industry interesting. Ultimately, healthy food needs to make you feel good about yourself. It should bring you energy, fulfilment, and joy – and that is something that we take very seriously at Hello Chef,” she says.
Manner has helped UAE residents prepare more than 1.7 million meals and is adamant that cooking both with and for your family is paramount. She says that the people she provides meal plans and ingredients for can benefit from 20 different recipes each week and that these are easily plannable, four weeks in advance.
A sustainable and inclusive approach
With her family history and her unquestionable passion for avoiding waste, Manner is adamant that food shouldn’t be an assumed entity but a resource that is respected and enjoyed. Meal plans, delivered with pre-portioned ingredients for the number of family members, allow residents to avoid waste and create dishes that nourish and inspire without causing undue damage to the environment.
Manner’s creations also cover a range of different tastes and cultures; a reflection of the UAE’s vibrant mix of expatriates.
“As a multinational team, we strive to bring an international feel to our menu every week. We offer so much variety across our recipes – from Chinese and Middle Eastern to Sri Lankan and British. Given the lack of travel in the last 12 months, we hope that our recipes can bring our customers even just a small taste of home, wherever that may be for them,” she says
All the V’s
Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or simply someone who cares about the environment, Hello Chef offers easy to follow solutions. The recipes shared come with clear calories, carbs and cooking time information. And, as a brand that refutes complacency, Hello Chef is constantly refining and reviewing its product so Manner says her customers should expect exciting changes soon…
To learn more, visit hellochef.me