Domini Kemp is known for her books, her restaurants and cafes, but her passion for food took a new turn when she was recovering from cancer and wanted the optimum nutrition to bring her back to health, restore energy and support her busy working and home life. What she learned has now become her default way of eating, and it’s so effective, she’s now founded a restaurant, Alchemy in BT2, based on these principals. At the IMAGE Networking Breakfast on Tuesday, January 20 at The Marker Hotel, she shares her story. We caught up with her in advance for a quick chat.
You’ve always eaten well, but can you explain what triggered your interest in clean/healthful eating?
It started to creep up on me in 2005 when I read the brilliant book by Dr Serven Shreiber, called “Anti-cancer”. I had a malignant melanoma in my Twenties and even though that was attributed to living in the Bahamas as a child in era when no one really wore sun block – I did start to read up a little on links between cancer and diet. It was a fascinating book about food, cancer and general health and from there, my interest grew.
Do you believe your diet played a part in your recovery from cancer? If so, what and why?
Yes, but to be very clear, I recovered from cancer because of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. But what my diet did do was give me the strength and energy I needed to keep living well, working and exercising throughout this tough programme of treatment. I firmly believe I was able to withstand treatment as well as I did because of a good diet, exercise and a very positive outlook.
How does the food you choose to eat interact with your mood on a day-to-day basis?
I am not a saint, but I do try to eat better 90% of the time. But if I go out too late, drink too much wine, eat too much heavy food, I don’t feel good the next day and crave all the “bad” foods, which sometimes, I indulge in. But I work hard and I find that eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep (very important) helps you feel and function well.
What would you call your ‘superfoods’ and why?
There are a lot of spurious arguments about this with doctors and scientists saying: “there’s no such thing as “super foods”, or detoxing”. It’s a silly argument as really all they are arguing about are semantics: anyone with half a brain should be able to agree that an ingredient like white chocolate is not really “super” for you, but that a handful of blueberries are. My definition would be foods that pack a nutritional punch: like garlic, turmeric, dark leafy greens and dark berries.
Juicing – is it something you do? How do you incorporate it into your life?
I have given up juicing at home as I much prefer buying them in Alchemy Juice Co upstairs in BT2. But I do make a shot of wheatgrass every morning, with fresh lemon juice.
How did Alchemy begin? What is your plan for it?
We really wanted to open up a food apothecary as it were – so that if healthier food was your requirement – you could eat everything on the menu and really enjoy it. We’ve always had healthy options available in our other businesses – the lentil and veg soup in itsa is legendary stuff! – but that’s only part of a picture. We wanted to open up Alchemy knowing the entire menu was considered nutritionally as a priority.
What’s the best breakfast to go to work on?
If I am going to be working at outdoor catering jobs all day and know I can’t stop until late that evening, I will have a Bulletproof coffee (coffee and coconut oil) and make sure I have a massive flask of water in stainless steel can with a splash of cider vinegar. My usual tipple mid-week though is live plain yoghurt – after my wheatgrass and lemon juice shot – with berries and a mix of chia and flax seeds. Sometimes I make porridge for little people and will add some flax seeds to it for myself, as well as cinnamon. I do like a cuppa good ole fashioned Barry’s tea in the morning, but with almond milk!
Food writer, entrepreneur, cook and mother of two, Domini Kemp joins Terry Prone and Tour America founder Mary McKenna at the next IMAGE Networking Breakfast. Tickets are just €45 and can be purchased here. For more information on the event, email [email protected], call 01 271 9653 or click here.
When: 7.30am – 10am, Tuesday, January 20
Where: The Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2
Tickets: €45 each