The head of product development at Simple Feast, Anders Vald is a chef who strives to make healthy and sustainable eating accessible for everyday home cooks.
• Apprenticed for 4 years at Restaurant Kong Hans in Copenhagen
• Earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
• Former head chef at the Danish embassies in Canada and U.S.
• Author of the cookbooks “Løgismose Sommer” and “Løgismose Vinter”
• Has been cooking for friends and family as far back as he can remember
• Favorite seasonal dishes include the first white asparagus in May, grilled corn on the cob in the summer, poached eggs and truffles in the fall, and slow-cooked stews in the winter
• Does biking, spinning, and running as part of his fitness routine.
Making Good Food Easy to Understand
“Rethinking how dishes are typically built has turned my cooking upside down,” says Anders Vald. His shift toward plant-based cooking and eating has happened gradually, but its personal and professional impact has been profound.
Vald’s focus as a chef is to make high-quality products accessible for home cooks, so they may eat well without overly manipulating ingredients. “In Copenhagen we are blessed with a super high level of ingredients when it comes to restaurants and chefs. However, when shopping for groceries at regular supermarkets, I noticed the picture was a lot different. Until a few years ago, it was very hard to find decent ingredients.”
“How could I, as a cook, contribute to making a change?” Vald continues. “Not only for the few who can afford dining at a gourmet restaurant, but for the majority of families cooking at home? Reducing a relatively little part of our daily intake of meat and dairy will have an enormous positive impact on the global climate and our health.”
This quest led Vald to product development, a career path he invests with social responsibility. “I have been engaged in developing over 300 products and a number of food-related concepts sold in Scandinavian retail and e-commerce. Having this many products on my conscience got me thinking: How do ‘my’ products affect the way people eat, their health, the climate? I came to one simple conclusion: focus on plant-based food. Make it tasty, convenient, and easy to understand.”
“I was brought up cooking at some of the best restaurants and learning from some of the best chefs, whom I still have the deepest respect for. And I have cooked for all types of people—rock stars, movie stars, members of the royal family, diplomats, and prime ministers,” says Vald, who has worked as a head chef for the Danish embassies in Canada and the U.S. “However, what intimidates me the most is developing and serving food for ‘regular’ families. Because if they do not like my food, our mission to persuade people to eat more plant-based food—by making it flavorful, convenient, and easy to understand—has failed.”
Vald, who is not a vegetarian—“I just love plants,” he says—spent time as a youth in his grandmother’s kitchen, and though he wasn’t directly aware of it at the time, it’s where he first experienced the kind of frugal approach that chefs are embracing today.
“My grandmother made very traditional food. She was extremely skilled in what these days we would call ‘nose to tail cooking.’ Nothing was wasted: coffee grounds were used in cakes and bread, stems from fresh herbs in sauces and for tea. She also taught me that a chicken easily serves eight to ten people if you use it smart and add a lot of vegetables.”
Since shifting his focus to plant-based eating, Vald has come to consider ingredients anew. “I have really learned to appreciate plants like tomatoes, nuts, seaweed, mushrooms, and different kinds of onions—things that give you that deep ‘umami’ flavor you normally find in animal-based dishes,” he says.
The gratification of persuading more home cooks to put vegetables at the center of the plate keeps Vald moving forward. “I think the biggest challenge lies in tradition. It is not that we do not like plant-based food; we are just used to thinking of dinner as a cut of meat with something on the side. It takes a bit of dedication, but when we start thinking plants first, we have come a long way.”