This week we’re excited to interview Lore Salas, the talented raw and pastry chef behind epic blog and Instagram account Dates & Avocados.
Going behind the scenes we ask Lore what inspires her cooking and find out the lengths she goes to in order to get that perfect picture.
Hi Lore! Please introduce yourself.
My name is Lore Salas, the vegan chef behind @datesandavocados. I spend my days cooking and taking pictures of what I cook, most of it healthy, plant-based desserts. I make a living by creating new recipes and sharing them with lovely people around the world. I’m a very lucky person!
You enrolled at a pastry school in Houston, and later graduated as a Raw Chef from Matthew Kenney Culinary: what did the academic background teach you about food and flavours?
For me, school was very important skill-wise: techniques, set ups, cleanliness, how to be methodical in my approach to cooking, and so on. But in terms of food and flavors, if I could highlight just one thing, it would be respect for ingredients: nothing can beat quality ingredients. You can learn a lot about how ingredients work together, the best ways to cook them and balance flavors, etc. but it makes a massive difference when you use great seasonal and local ingredients.
How do you find a routine when it comes to creating content?
I don’t have a routine. I’ve tried, but I can’t seem to find one. I can go to bed after working 8 hours in the kitchen without coming up with anything useful and feeling like an absolute fraud, then suddenly I have to jump out of bed in the middle of the night because I found the idea I was looking for. I just put all my hours in: that’s what works for me so far.
Why desserts above all? How do you keep the inspiration and creativity going?
It’s a family story. My dad used to have a dessert ready for every special occasion, he learned that from his mother, my grandmother. But he was also very strict about providing me as a kid with a very healthy diet and getting me involved with lots of different sports, so I developed this contradictory attitude of loving desserts but feeling guilty after I ate them.
Coming up with healthy, delicious desserts and sharing that knowledge with others is my personal way of spreading the love I share with my family.
What’s your favourite cookbook and why?
“Relae” by Christian F. Puglisi is the first one that comes to mind. I’m very attracted by high-quality, minimalist cooking, and that book was a great inspiration to me during my journey at culinary school.
What’s a misconception about recipe development?
I guess everything comes down to styles. Social media has turned the tables towards visuals, which means that you can create an extraordinary, impactful photograph that catches the eye, of a dish that is strictly, absolutely inedible! I’d say a misconception is that people often forget about balance in favor of visuals and fancy aesthetics.
Recipes require thoughtful development. It’s wrong to neglect the expressiveness of food just to create a pleasing visual composition.
Flavour, texture, consistency: what do you find is the hardest component to master when developing recipes?
In raw pastry, consistency is tricky, but it boils down to flavour and texture, too. It’s quite challenging to find the right way to keep a dessert stable, without adding too much of an ingredient and spoiling the flavour in the process. I’d say the hardest thing is to find a way to maintain all those variables working together smoothly, in an original and interesting way. Then you can say you have a new recipe.
How important is the picture when it comes to a great recipe?
Personally, when I am working on social media, the picture is as important as the food. I’d find myself with a recipe I consider a gem, but I couldn’t post it unless the picture was at least as great as the recipe.
Getting it right can take weeks. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve spent hours trying to take a shot until I get what I want.
Sometimes after all that work I end up deleting everything. But for example, when I do consulting for restaurants I can jump straight into the recipe development process and forget about the picture – that can be a relief.
To be honest, some of the best moments are when I receive lovely feedback from a mother who used a recipe of mine for her son’s birthday party because she wanted the kids to eat a healthy dessert. Or when someone who prepared one of my savory recipes for a dinner with friends thanks me because it was a success. Those moments have nothing to do with pictures and imagery, and they make all the work worthwhile!
How do you test your recipes?
Trial and error. Tonnes of trial and error!
I trust the people around me and I force them to tell me everything, not just “I like it/I don’t like it”. I’m interested in why something works or doesn’t. With time, I’m getting better at knowing in advance what will probably work, but I still have a lot to learn.