60 Seconds on Earth with Max La Manna

60 Seconds on Earth with Max La Manna

 

Words by Elie Gordon

Video by Emma Blackman

Zero waste chef and author Max La Manna joins us to chat about Christmas food waste, his cooking inspirations, and what he misses most about New York City.

Sustainable vegan chef and author Max La Manna wants you to waste less food in the kitchen. He’s focused on transforming the culinary industry to promote using every part of the ingredient, not throwing anything away, and making high-quality plant-based recipes accessible to everyone. In addition to his live cooking classes via Zoom and his cookbook, More Plants Less Waste, Max shares his recipes and skills with over 900 thousand followers on his Instagram.

 

In our latest edition of 60 Seconds on Earth, Atmos asks La Manna a series of rapid-fire questions to help you get to know him a little better. From self-care tips to book recommendations, La Manna shows Atmos that delicious dishes are only a fragment of what he has to offer.

 

The video includes only a few of the questions, but you can read the full interview below.

ELIE

First of all, how are you?

MAX

I’m really well.

ELIE

What are you reading at the moment?

MAX

Right now I’m reading Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Have you read Daisy Jones and the Six? I love how it’s like a script and you’re getting all their point of views. I think they’re doing a TV show or movie on it…

ELIE

Yeah, it was the first one I read. I think The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is next for me.

 

What’s one thing you miss about New York?

MAX

The people. People and friends, and the constant chaos.

ELIE

And your favorite thing about London?

MAX

Still trying to figure that out…

ELIE

You moved away from London recently, do you prefer city life or rural living?

MAX

I like both. I’m an extrovert but I’m also an introvert. So I love retreating to the countryside, working on myself, doing what I need to do at home, but also love getting into the city and being around, like I said, that constant chaos, the hustle, and bustle of the city life. It’s a balance.

ELIE

Are you a Christmas grinch or a Christmas lover?

MAX

I’m definitely a Christmas/Holiday lover.

ELIE

Any festive traditions?

MAX

Food. Eat lots of food, and always cooking and baking and being around friends and family.

ELIE

Top tip to waste less food at Christmas?

MAX

Don’t overcook. Don’t overcook, save your leftovers and then eat those leftovers.

ELIE

Best Christmas movie?

MAX

Ooh… In America, I know they don’t share it here in the U.K., but in America, they have a movie that plays twenty-four hours just on repeat and it’s called A Christmas Story, so that is always playing in the background.

ELIE

Twenty-four hours on TV??

MAX

Twenty-four hours on TV, on repeat. So as soon as it ends it is playing again and again and again. It’s a movie I think was filmed in the 70s or 80s but takes place in the 1930s.

ELIE

Tea or coffee?

MAX

Depends on the time of the day, but, definitely coffee.

ELIE

Carbs or veggies?

MAX

Both?

ELIE

If there was one meal you had to eat forever—what would it be?

MAX

Pasta.

ELIE

Are there other chefs who inspire you?

MAX

Yes. Rachel Ama, Melissa Hemsley, Anna Jones, Nigella [Lawson]. All these women I think are the best chefs.

ELIE

A piece of advice to anyone thinking of going vegan?

MAX

I never try to promote veganism onto people. I think encouraging people to eat more plants, put more plants on their plate, one day at a time one meal at a time.

ELIE

How can people cut out food waste every day?

MAX

The easiest way to cut food waste is to cook and use the food that you already have at home, don’t go out and buy more food. A bonus tip is to compost. Maybe you have space in your garden or maybe you can get in contact with your local council and request food waste recycling.

ELIE

Homebody or out and about?

Max

Homebody.

ELIE

Any shows you’re binging right now?

MAX

Succession. It’s very serious, you need something to balance all the things going on in the world just to take your mind off of it. It’s quite problematic what they’re doing but it’s an insight to what potentially is happening I guess, I don’t know.

ELIE

How do you practice self-care?

MAX

Great question. I meditate in the morning, try to spend those moments in the early morning not spending so much time on my phone as soon as I wake up. Give about an hour or two hours before I try to get to any technology, give that moment to myself, and the same thing around bed. Turning off any laptops or phones hours before bed. I’ve gotten into the habit of having a skin care routine, so that’s one form of self-care doing something that’s good for your skin and your body.

ELIE

How do you stay positive?

MAX

How do I stay positive? Self-affirmations, telling myself that I am happy, fake smiling, fake laughing, and after a few seconds you actually start to really smile and start to laugh after you invoke that smile or laughter then you actually are really laughing and smiling. So, that feels good, sending those endorphins, getting it all going. I feel better after that, that’s one way of staying positive.

ELIE

Best place you’ve visited?

MAX

I’m really lucky to have traveled to Greece for my honeymoon, and we were on a really small island. We had to take a plane and then a boat and then a little bit of a car journey, so it was a long day of getting to where we needed to go. It was well worth the wait because we were meant to go last year in 2020, obviously everything was kind of closed down then, but, it was worth the wait. That was the most beautiful place I think I’ve been to. That was my favorite place, my happy place.

ELIE

Most shocking food waste fact?

MAX

This one always gets me. 20 million slices of bread, every single day in the UK are thrown away. 20 million slices. With the amount of people that are starving in the UK alone—2 million people—you can make… I think it’s five sandwiches for each person that’s hungry. Just with the amount of bread that we throw away. So you just need a little bit of filling, but those two slices of bread. You can make five sandwiches per person with 20 million slices. I think that’s my math. My math is right. 20 million slices, 10 million sandwiches… divided by 2 million. That’s five.

ELIE

Favorite food waste recipe?

MAX

My favorite food waste recipe…Ooh. Recently, I’ve started making pasta using aquafaba. So the leftover chickpea water in the tin. Flour and aquafaba make this beautiful pasta dough. So, every Friday night I’m making homemade pasta from scratch.

ELIE

Do you have any other sustainable hacks that you can share? Maybe not related to food.

MAX

Love the clothes you already have, walk instead of drive, ride a bike, turn off lights. I mean, all those things that we’ve always been told, those are the things that I try to practice and preach the most.

ELIE

Cheeky book plug?

MAX

Back in 2019, I released my first cookbook, More Plants, Less Waste, and in 2020, it was awarded the most sustainable cookbook in the UK and second most sustainable cookbook in the world. This book has over 60 delicious recipes that use the ingredients that you have in your cupboard, in your fridge, to help you waste less food.

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