Talking to Adrian Natîngă about the vegan cuisine


Veganism is ever so fascinating, whether we look at it from a curious perspective trying to understand its functionalities, or if we look at it with skeptical eyes trying to find a place for it in the world. The passion to explore and to live sustainably are elements found in the work of our colleague Adrian, who not only specialized in vegan cuisine, but also adopted this lifestyle. We learned some precious information that we simply must share.

What would you define a healthy lifestyle?

I would personally define it using one word- “balance”; balance for all intents and purposes, meaning: doing sports regularly, eating healthy, but also incorporating cheat days whenever necessary. I did try to be super healthy, but failed to do so, but I am trying to adjust things in order to lead a healthy lifestyle.

I gave up all vices for my health and it makes me proud and I can confidently say that I do lead a healthy lifestyle currently.

The elements that contributed to this approach are both Nutriento and my partner.

What is your nutritional style? Are you focused exclusively on vegan cooking and is this what you eat every day?

I am focused exclusively on vegan options, at home I cook vegan meals, my daily eating habits are vegan. It is true that over time I found it challenging to replace foods that still contain small amounts of vegetarian. ingredients

How long have you been part of the Nutriento team?

Since December 11th 2020. It was right before I started looking for a different job, in the middle of the pandemic, when I was a chef in a rather hostile environment, I had no idea how to leave. But right before I put in my notice, I learned that the entire management of the previous place was going to change and I was given the option to either stay or leave, and as I was in the process of finding a different opportunity, I had already decided to apply at Nutriento a week or two prior to receiving this news, yet I was unsure whether I would be contacted or not.

For some context, at my previous job I was working with meat and I was feeling sorry for the fish I was holding in my hand. The fact that Nutriento has this vegan concept is what attracted me in the first place.

How did you become interested in working in a kitchen, particularly a vegan kitchen? Please share your professional journey with us.

I was always fascinated by food and cooking, but I thought it was a mere hobby, when I was younger I would not cook, yet I was intrigued by my mother’s cooking. I was internally judging her for cooking in a too simple manner, yet I had nothing to do with cooking at that time. I originally thought I would become a cool math teacher so I studied accordingly, yet in my second year as a college student I took a full time job in a kitchen. I enjoyed what I was doing so much that I felt like the school courses were neverending. My first kitchen job consisted of 17-hour shifts yet it made all the difference in choosing a career path. That is how much I loved it!

During my first two and a half years of working in the kitchen I had no idea that vegan and vegetarian cuisine existed. However, the universe guided me towards a raw-vegan, vegan and vegetarian kitchen, but this kitchen also closed for renovations and I was given the opportunity to choose from a number of proposals amongst which one with a vegetarian profile. By working in this new sector, I can safely say I discovered my second biggest passion aside from cooking: plant based cuisine. In the beginning I was intrigued as I thought that the restaurant would not be able to support its activities, that is how much I doubted vegan and vegetarian foods. But I soon realized that there were people who enjoyed it and that this concept is becoming more and more popular even now, and it is a necessary approach for balance at the global level. I always aimed to excel in whatever sector I worked in, I was eager to learn raw-vegan, vegan and vegetarian cuisines, I liked getting involved, to be the go-to person both in the kitchen as well as for the people I worked with, and this helped me a lot in evolving as a chef.

I decided to become a vegan two years ago, first of all for the animals, then for the environment, then for my health. And now I am grateful to myself for the decision I made as it helps me create new recipes as I believe it is important that the dishes I make reflect who I am.

Where did the passion for plant based cuisine come from?

The passion for plant based cuisine came as a result of an insightful analysis of my lifestyle as I have at home a “small zoo”, so I find it unjust to love my pets but to consume meat as part of my diet. At the same time, the passion arose as I started working with plant based restaurants, but I mainly progressed in the plant based sector since I started my work with Nutriento as it gave me the opportunity to test and experiment new recipes.

What is your creative process and where do you draw inspiration from? How do you align your beliefs to the Nutriento verticals?

Wow! At times I even surprise myself when I start working with a seemingly boring ingredient which I toss and turn and analyze until I end up with a totally different result from the one I originally had in mind. When time allows for it, I get these bursts of inspiration and ideas and I write them down and then I implement them, they practically come out of nowhere. There are times when I take inspiration from the internet- the internet is full of various information, but most are off putting, so I never take into account the presented amounts, I just get inspired by the combinations made by others which I reimagine and adapt in my cooking.

The creative process for the Nutriento recipes a challenging one as I must take into account a series of factors such as: top quality ingredients, the ingredients must be healthy ones, they need to be adapted to trends, the final outcome needs to have numerous benefits for out bodies not just from a filling perspective, to be easy to make given the context of having to be prepared in a restaurant.

Which is the biggest challenge in making a new dish?

The biggest challenge is linked to time constraints, but at the same time, it is linked to a second challenge which is to respect all the standards that Nutriento is based on. Nutriento is VERY strict when in comes to approaching the health-balance-energy concept, and now, a new sector emerges where locally sourced ingredients matter more, and this somehow puts a limitation to my work, but at the same time increases the quality of the final dish, as the nutritional elements of local ingredients are so much more meaningful over the ones that are imported, as well as the smell and taste of local products.

How do you envision the evolution of sustainable eating in the future?

As stated before, the entire plant based concept continues to bloom and develop, thus plant based means future. I noticed that more and more people adopt a vegan lifestyle for a number of reasons and I don’t think I need to present a list of reasons why people do this as this is a decision that provides nothing but benefits from all perspectives.

When building a new dish do you first consider the objectives it will respond to or does the end result dictate the purpose?

I most certainly think of the overall outcome, and if the combination of ingredients I thought of does not align with the expectations of Nutriento, I stop the process entirely, unless it is about small adjustments. I must say I am very lucky to be working with my colleague Alina who guided me throughout our entire collaboration in the decisions we made and helped me develop the way I think of the dishes to be made. 

What ingredient do you like working most from the perspective of possible outcomes?

What I like most and I find it to be very flexible are cashews as they are easy to incorporate into any dish, whether we have in mind desserts, spreads, sauces or main dishes.

Now, I often encounter people saying things like “But you already know what to cook so it’s easier for you to be vegan” or “My options are limited as a vegan”, but I must say this: almost any dish that contains ingredients of animal origin can be reinterpreted for a plant based option. As for the observation “You know how to cook”, do feel free to talk to me on Instagram for any questions you may have on the topic of vegan nutrition and I will gladly help you.


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