New crew

by Josh Evans.

The past few months have seen a series of transitions here at the Lab. Ben, who’s been leading the team as Head of R&D for the past two years, left us at the end of June to start his own projects. We wish him all the best in his return to his hometown of Edinburgh after ten years on the road, leading restaurant kitchens, skiing the Alps, studying in Piemonte and captaining a crazy crew in Copenhagen. He’ll be doing very tasty things, so keep an eye and a tongue out.

One of our very long-term intern Researchers, Guillemette Barthouil, also left us at the end of June. She’ll be returning to her family business in the French Basque country as a fourth-generation foie gras producer, but only after sailing the Baltic, opening up a garden restaurant in the Netherlands, and spending some time in Ecuador.

They have both contributed an immense amount to the Lab and we are grateful for them.

These two send-offs also coincide with two welcomes to our permanent team.

Robbe plating up some lamb tartare with sprouted purple wheat. photo credit: Afton Halloran

Roberto Flore now officially joins us as our Head Chef, after starting with us on a stage in February and being brought on as interim Head Chef in June. Ben and I first met Robbe last October, when we traveled to Sardinia to research casu marzu, one of the few existing European traditions of entomophagy. Robbe is from Seneghe, a small town of about two thousand people in the hills north of Oristano on the western coast of Sardinia. He took us everywhere, introducing us to shepherds, producers, and eaters and facilitating our research with a splendid intensity. He joins us from being Executive Chef and Management Partner at Antica Dimora del Gruccione, an acclaimed inn and gastronomic learning centre in Santu Lussurgiu, Sardinia, where he did everything from running the restaurant to collaborating with producers to leading workshops with visitors from around the world. He has been making food in the Canary Islands, Sardinia, and across Italy, cooking in restaurants such as Metamorfosi in Rome and the Four Seasons in Milan and working directly with butchers, bakers, cheesemakers, and other producers of all sorts. Robbe has also studied agronomy, and holds a diploma in Management of Marine Parks, Forests and Nature Reserves. We look forward to his broad experience with both chefs and producers helping us build our community in Denmark and the Nordic region, and his commitment to advancing our kitchen, his love of the edible landscape, and his background bringing a new perspective to our work.

Jonas on the boat.

Jonas Astrup Pedersen has been a familiar face around the Lab for a couple years. He has spent time with us already, first as an intern conducting research on kombucha in winter 2012/2013 for a Project in Practice as part of his MSc in Food Science and Technology at University of Copenhagen, and then returning in Spring 2014 to write his Master’s thesis, entitled ‘Disgusting or Delicious: Utilisation of bee larvae as an ingredient and consumer acceptance of the resulting food’. Aside from his work with us, he has been heavily involved in food and gastronomy in Denmark, consulting for Estate Coffee, developing a tea program for Chokolade Compagniet, teaching baking at Meyers Madhus, and making regular appearances as a food science expert on Danish news television. Jonas brings a lot of knowledge and skills to the team and will work with us primarily as a product developer, in addition to project managing our contribution to the newly-begun Smag for Livet project (‘Taste for Life’), which focusses on the taste of food as a driving force behind health, learning, development, and life satisfaction especially of children and adolescents.

We’re excited about the new crew and have already launched into new projects to push our exploration further. Here’s to even more deliciousness!

– Josh