Answer to that is "yes"
The idea is we work with like minded people who love it all, surfing, yoga, nature, sustainability, the ocean, travel and a sense of adventure! As thats what Wild & Free Adventures is all about
So you've met Bjorn the Foraging Surfer in our Decembers Blog, who will be hosting the Foraging experience on our Devon Yoga & Foraging Adventure this May 6-9th in Hartland (still a couple of spots left btw!!) and now meet Nikita, who will be cooking the rest of the food on that weekend retreat and will also be joining us on our Wild & Free Alan Stokes Surf Coaching Adventure end of May 21st-26th in Cornwall...
I love this picture, as it really does capture Nikita's personality... "fun" and "full of life and smiles"
Nikita lives and surfs locally to us in North Devon and we both enjoy catching some waves on one of our favourite surf spots Saunton Sands! Nikita has joined us on our Women & Water Retreats in Cornwall where she cooks up some delicious food for our guests and shares her passion for food and a plane based diet.
Nikita loves travelling, surfing and yoga and already familiar with hosting, cooking and all that goes into a Surf & Yoga Retreat, so when she approached us about working with us, it was the perfect fit! ... and a big "yes". Being a surfer herself Nikita makes sure our guests are well fed before and after a surf and loves sharing her knowledge of an Ayurvedic diet and cooks both on our in person retreats and the many Online Yoga & Cooking At Home Retreats we ran in 2020-21. Where some of you would have met Nikita and her amazing knowledge of eating with the seasons, good gut health and her delicious vegan, gluten and dairy free alternatives, like some of these pictured below and our guests created with us online. From vegan and gluten free pastry, a Christmas beet wellington and yummy diary and gluten free muffins!!
Just to name a few!
So we asked Nikita some fun and insightful questions, so you can continue to get to know the team that work with us at Wild & Free Adventures and here's what she had to say to some of the 'random' questions I threw at her:
What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
"Funnily enough, I don't think I'm that out there, I def haven't eaten any weird animal or anything... but some might say eating a bunch of fermented cabbage is strange, but for me, that's pretty standard"
Well fermented cabbage has to be tried before its knocked as I agree, if someone had offered that to me as a kid I would have replied with "why?"... but knowing all the gut health benefits fermenting knowledge you've shared with us on our online retreats I now want it with every meal! Plus it is delicious despite it not sounding so.
Who's your favourite chef and why?
"I would say the lady that inspired me to start cooking professionally, was a lady called Roni of @roniskitchen on Instagram. I met her while living in Canada and she gave me my first prep chef job. I got to watch how she cooked and worked with her team....and honestly aside from her food being the best vegan food id ever eaten, her way of spreading so much love and chill vibes in the kitchen completely transformed my idea of what a chef was. Here was this vivacious amazing woman, leading a kitchen with so much integrity and consciousness....it just inspired me"
Roni sounds very inspiring and a great person to learn from and I can see she has influenced how you work in the kitchen... because it is always fun and a happy place in the kitchen with you!
When did you first get into cooking and what was the first thing you remember cooking?
"I started cooking as a kid. My mum was big on us all helping around the house. We all cooked alongside her to begin with and then slowly we were expected to cook meals for the family. I loved it. I remember learning how to do a full veggie nachos spread.....mastering the refried beans was that moment of OH I CAN COOK for me"
What was your favourite family meal as a kid?
"Funnily enough, it was the above mentioned, the nacho spread. My mum loved doing loads of little bowls of different toppings....there were bowls of salsa, cucumber, tomatoes, beans, cheese, avo', sweet corn....the table was always birthing with colour and flavour"
What's your favorite tool in the kitchen... that you couldn't survive without?
"I want to say my knife..because that feels right as a chef...or my face saucepan....but I think in reality the thing that gets the most use is my nutribullet. I just love blending everything.....I use it for basically every meal"
I'd agree! You without a Nutribullet would just be strange... certainly your partner in crime in the kitchen, along with Joe! ;0)
Have you always lived by the coast and if not, where did you grow up and what drew you to this part of the world?
"I grew up in the 100-acre woods (the Winnie the poo woods) or maybe better known as the Ashdown forest. A beautiful landlocked woodland. I grew up riding horses around those woods....which was amazing! But I always knew I needed the ocean. When ever I visited it as a child, I would just want to be in it as long as possible or to just stare at it as long as possible, it really called me"
If you didn't live in Devon, where in the world would you live and why (food-related)?
"Oh my gosh....I want to go and live in so many places to eat their food....I couldn't choose one spot. I love Asian foods, so places that do vegan Asian really well call to me constantly. I loved Mexico for its food, and would def live there. Honestly, I want to try it all!"
You can see that in your food and one of my favourites we have cooked with you on our Online Retreats "Peanut Satay with Rice Noodles, Pickled Radish & Wilted Purple Kale"
When you are not cooking, what's your next favourite thing?
"I have always been into being active in some way, at the moment I am having a love affair with surfing, climbing, and walking. I also love doing arts and crafts with my mates (because that is what we do in the evening during winter....in north devon, where the only other option is the pub)"
Have you ever cooked for someone famous?
"I catered for Fi Glover, but honestly I embarrassingly had no idea until half way through the week :) "
Why did you want to work with and be a part of Wild and Free Adventures?
"I love that they are dedicated to getting people in the ocean, or out in nature. I have always preferred cooking for retreats because it's about getting to know the guests and building a relationship through the food I am serving them. I also love that wild and free adventures believe in good wholesome food. It makes wrong with them very easy, I always know we are on the same page. Also, Amanda and Joe are the greatest!"
Awww fans! ;0) well we only work with awesome people, so right back at cha my lovely! (ooooo thats sounded so Devon-like ha ha ha!)
Now I know you like surfing, but are you much of a yogi?
"I grew up doing yoga from day one, as my mum has been a devout yogi and teacher my entire life. I feel very at home in yoga and love seeing how it transforms the lives of so many people. it's an amazing gift I am grateful to have always had"
If so, what's your favorite style of yoga... and/or where was your most memorable yoga session and why?
"I have been through so many phases with yoga, from fun silly classes as a kid and teen, to an intense very focused practice in my early 20s....now I find myself gravitating to the slower more breath-focused classes, like yin. I feel I need the calming style that is confronting but not in that aggressive IM GOING TO SWEAT way..."
Where is your favourite surf spot and why?
"I learned to surf in South Africa in Jbay, so I will always feel that it be my surfing home. It's where I learned how to go down the line, it's where I got my first reef cut, my first near growing, my first everything! I love it there so much. My fave wave there is called Kitchen Windows....not sure if that says anything about me..."
What's your favorite retreat dish and why?
"I love cooking ayurvedic-inspired meals on retreats...my go-to is a traditional dish called Kitchari. I like to play around with creating really exciting, nurturing versions of this dish"
Pictures below from one of our Yoga & Cooking At Home Retreats when we cooked up this amazing meal!
What were your reasons behind going vegan?
"I went to work on a biodynamic dairy farm in South Africa when I was 19. The whole year I drank the milk and ate the cheese I made, and I loved it. But throughout that year I became friends with the herd because I was milking them and caring for them all day...this build a real understanding of how they actually operate and feel. For me it was having to comfort the mother and babies when we separated them....they would cry actual tears, and scream for each other. It was horrendous. because you cant explain to either of them what is happening, which on our farm was just them being separated so we could ween the baby....This reality of the pain and suffering we were causing made me realize the issue worldwide...where the babies were being taken, in way less loving ways...and never returned. It just changed me"
What's the one thing you miss being vegan?
"I sometimes miss eggs....very rarely, but sometimes I miss an eggy breakfast"
What's the most common question you get asked being vegan?
"But are you ACTUALLY vegan....seems to be a common one at the moment....which is better than but how do you get enough protein or iron..."
In 10 years' time where do you see yourself... location, business-wise, goals?
"WOW, big question! I see myself scaling up Vegan-Wise into a school. I love cooking for others, but I really love teaching and empowering others to cook for themselves. I have been writing a book for the past few years, putting everything I learn along the way. i have been teaching parts of this research in my own courses that I run....and I love it! SO MUCH. so I see that growing and becoming a real educational tool for people wanting to learn about nutritional cooking"
Fabulous and we also look forward to doing more cooking and creating exciting events with you too Nikita, it's always great fun in the kitchen and inspiring working with you on our retreats.
If you would like to join us with Nikita and create some exciting things in the kitchen, explore Ayurvedic cooking, gut health or vegan/plant based food, get in touch... as we are planning this years online Yoga & cooking Retreats soon, also we are looking at taking this online experience to our favourite surf beach in North Devon - Saunton Sands, potentially in April or this summer.
So if that sound of interest to you, get into via firstname.lastname@example.org and register your interest or dependant on when you are reading this, there may be some online events planned in so check out the Yoga & Cooking At Home Retreat Page and you can also check out what Nikita is up to on her page www.vegan-wise.co.uk.
Don't forget to check out our retreats, from 'female only' Surf & Yoga Retreats such as Women & Water (thats sells out super quick... even if we host 5 a year!!), or Devon Yoga & Foraging on the wild north Coast of Devon. As well as our exciting 10 days adventures where we venture to different destinations each year chasing waves and culture...and sunshine! This year in 2022 we're off to Sri Lanka and who knows where next???
We also have an Wild & Free Surf Coaching for progressive intermediates looking to ramp up their skills and join us and Alan Stokes (3rd time British Champion and local Cornwall Pro Surfer) for 4 days of surfing, surfing, and surfing!! Plus yoga, relaxing in a luxury lodge by the sea and again, some amazing food with our Private chefs... and Nikita will be joining us this may to cook up the hardy surfers some nourishing food and keep the energy levels up.