Max La Manna | @eatingwithmax

Please would you introduce yourself to our readers?

Heya, I’m Max La Manna – a zero-waste vegan chef and sustainability advocate!

What are some of your fondest food memories from growing up?

Let’s talk about food why don’t we? I grew up having a garden in my backyard and every Saturday in the summer months, my mother and I would harvest the freshest tomatoes from the vine. We would prepare a tomato sauce from scratch – the lovely, vibrant aromas of garlic and onions sautéing while she played classic French music. It was definitely my favourite day of the week and of course, my favourite meal of the evening – fresh homemade spaghetti, tomato and basil – what more could you ask for?

The way you flavour your food when cooking seems really instinctual- do you have any tips for people just starting out with cooking their own meals and looking to learn how to flavour their food?

Thank you! This is quite a lovely compliment. I believe the best thing we can do with our food is being present. Our food is a source of energy and it can definitely pick up and feel what is going on within us, so be present and grateful. I also love the idea of “less is more”. Sometimes too much flavour can overwhelm the dish, so I like looking at my food, love smelling my food, love listening, touching and of course, tasting – so invite all your senses to be involved and maybe all you need is a bit of lemon zest, a drizzle of raw extra virgin olive oil, roasted nuts and seeds.

What do you think are some of the most underrated ingredients in plant-based cooking?

Great question! There’s so many out there, but I’m a big believe of cooking what you already have in your cupboard. Use what you already have because this will reduce your food waste and save time and money.

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To say you are passionate about the zero waste movement would be an understatement! How did you first learn about the impact that our global consumption problem has on our planet and what were some of the first steps you took to reduce your waste contribution?

It’s always been apart of me. I’ve always been fascinated about earth and how we are respecting (or lack there of) the only place we can call home. One day I was just fed about with seeing waste pile up on the street and in our nature settings that I wanted to make change. I started researching ways to reduce my impact. Of course, the typical answers showed up; i.e. drive less, turn your lights off, use less water. But, I’ve been doing this for so long that it felt like I could do more. I started looking in my bin to see what I was “throwing away”, and there was my proof. From here I started researching alternative solutions and made positive, disruptive changes immediately.

Is there anywhere in the world that seems to be excelling at reducing food waste more than the rest of us and if so what can we learn from them?

It all starts with us. There are so many people standing and speaking up to make changes for themselves and their legislations that city and countries are completely going “zero-waste”. Vancouver, Canada, San Francisco, California, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and even New York City is striving to go “zero-waste” by 2030. The hierarchy prioritises waste prevention: this could include using environmentally-friendly product designs, implementing local waste prevention plans and financial disincentives such as landfill tax. When waste is created, the hierarchy then gives priority to direct re-use, then to recycling and recovery methods– such as energy recovery from waste to produce heat or electricity– and last of all, to disposal. I believe everyone needs to be behind the initiative and that’s what is happening in countries around the world. We cannot deny or turn away from the facts any longer– the clock is ticking– we don’t have time to waste.

Dare we say it, but Christmas isn’t too far away now! What tips do you have for our readers to reduce waste over the festive period and on the day itself?

Christmas is the number one most wasteful day of the year. What I’ve done in the past instead of shopping during the days leading up to the holidays because that can be stressful and chaotic is creating my gifts– I’ve made homemade granola, homemade toothpaste, body scrub and cream in mason jars. It’s a more thoughtful gift in my eyes and the jars are reusable- efficient, thoughtful and sustainable.

Finally, what lies in store for you over the next 12 months- do you have anything exciting coming up that we should know about?!

This is all very exciting and it’s news I will share with everyone very soon! Sorry, but you’ll have to wait and see!

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We cannot deny or turn away from the facts any longer.
The clock is ticking– we don’t have time to waste.
— Max La Manna
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all photos belong to @eatingwithmax

all photos belong to @eatingwithmax

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Thanks so much for your time Max!

- The Vurger Co.