The Head Chef of the Essex-based Glass House, Miguel Gouveia, on nutrition and wellbeing, and why plant-based menus are on the up
Miguel Gouveia has been passionate about food since his childhood on the Atlantic island of Madeira. Most chefs end up on a path of indulgence, a world away from nutrition and wellbeing; however Miguel is different. He’s at the forefront of a healthy living revolution and an expert in plant-based diets. For generations society has been eating processed foods, full of salt, sugar, and fat, ut people are waking up. The health fallout of poor diets cannot be denied. Miguel has been on a mission to help people lead healthier lives, after graduating from a top cuisine school in California. Now, at the Glass House, you can learn from him. Absolutely headed to Bulphan to find out more.
How young were you when you first became interested in cooking?
I was 14-years-old when I started being interested in cooking, from seeing my mum and grandmother cook traditional Portuguese dishes.
What was the approach to food in Madeira when you were growing up?
I had great upbring; Madeira has an amazing food culture, great dishes and flavours. Growing up I was exposed to all of this with an abundance of home grown produce.
When did you decide that being a chef was the career for you?
When I started working in the kitchen, I gained a lot of passion and interest in learning with other, more experienced chefs and seeing the amazing flavours and dishes and how it was displayed. I realised that’s what I wanted to create, and this was the path that I wanted to learn and perfect.
When did you come to the UK and how different did you find the food scene over here?
I used to spend my school summer holidays in the UK, so I was introduced to British cuisine early on and that played part in my interest for cooking because of so many cultures in the UK and different products that we didn’t have in Madeira. It was great to try and be around it, and then I came permanently to the UK in 2002 and followed in my dad’s footsteps as he was also a chef.
Were you always interested in the connection between nutrition and
My first chef job was in a private school cooking for children from various ages, so nutrition and wellbeing were always important. To become a better chef it’s important to learn the reasons we use certain products and the benefits – that made me have a better understanding as to what to use and why we use it.
How much has plant-based food come on over recent years?
I feel that we are on the right path, but it will still take some time to educate people on using more plant-based dishes. Social media has helped a lot in sharing interest in plant-based food, so I feel if we keep sharing the message why plant-based food is beneficial to our diets, soon it will become part of our routine. For me, 2023 is the best year so far for plant-based food. We see restaurants adapting to certain meals, hotels, spas, and cafes, so plant-based is becoming more popular.
When did you join the Glass House and what attracted you to working there?
I start working for Glass House in 2019. One of the things that attracted me to the Glass House was the passion and vision that they have and that made me want to be part of it. They are something so forward-thinking that would make such a great impact on society.
What does your role entail?
My role entails managing the catering team, training chefs, developing menus, designing recipes, looking for new fresh products, making sure all the catering department follows the correct protocol and vision and to share my passion. We are a small team, and a very close management team who assist each other.
What kind of dishes do you create at the Glass House?
At Glass House Retreat I create various types of menus from juicing, light choices to equilibrium (more sumptuous dishes), to afternoon tea, brunch, demos and private one-to-one classes.
Is there anything new coming up for spring?
We develop new monthly specials designed by one of my chefs in rotation. We will introduce our new Summer Menu soon with lighter dishes. We take pride in altering our dishes to accommodate guests who have allergies or intolerances, from nut allergies to gluten free dishes.