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Around the Table With… Immy Sykes

December 15, 2019

Immy is somewhat a bit of a ghost writer for TPT. She has  an incredible talent for stringing words together, something I’m terrible at! Most posts are written by myself, however before they are posted they have been rewritten, jiggled about and made legible by Immy. This also goes for Instagram captions and other written aspects of my life. Need a text message reading over, ask Immy. Got an important email that you just cant get right? Ask Immy. Need to explain directions to a passer by… draw pictures, because she doesn’t know where’s she going haha!

She’s a key member of the TPT team. For a long time I thought it would just have to be me, doing everything, but having people to trust to help with the small things, really makes the big things happen. I honestly don’t think I’d be here, two years down the line, without her, Adam and my family and friends.

And at the point were she thought she might have got away without doing one of these, I was there ready with some questions! Immy is definitely one of the most interesting people I know, so take five and join us around the table…

1. You write some wonderful things for TPT, but if you had to write about one food for the rest of your life what would it be?

Potatoes – just think of the variety! You could talk about chips, crisps, hash browns, vodka, mash, jacket potato, roast potato, dauphinoise, gnocchi. potato cakes, waffles, croquettes. You can make plastic from starch. You’ve got the historical potato famine if you you are interested in socio-political implications of food. God the possibilities are quite literally endless.

2. Where’s your favourite place to eat breakfast and why?

Brew and Tucker in Frodsham, Cheshire without a doubt. It is this tiny minimalist cafe in the centre of Frodsham (which is a tiny little market town with more pubs than people) that does the best coffee in the world – without a doubt. I don’t think they do a specific vegan menu, but will always go out of their way to accommodate me. And by that I mean allow me to sit in the corner and glare at everyone that enters.

Jaunty Goat Vegan in Chester is also brilliant, because it is where we always go for breakfast – it is our thing. It is really nice to be in a cafe where there isn’t a single item available that will cause me to run to the loo every 20 mins. Nothing is off limits. I can eat it all and I have hash browns on the side.

And also – some place we visited in Edinburgh – was it called Zebra? It was so cool and bright and artsy, and they really knew how to load up some toast with avo.

Ok that was three. But you know me #rulebreaker

3. With supermarkets, restaurants and cafes being more aware of plant based diets, what’s the best thing you’ve eaten in the last year?

This is definitely going to be sacrilege, but Morrisons have just bought out a vegan pasty which is the absolute bees knees. I lived in Cornwall for a number of years where pasties are an art-form, and a way of life (an old friend does ‘pasty review’ on his instagram, and it is categorically the best thing in the world), so when I went veggie/vegan a few years ago I was legitimately sad about giving up the pasty (I love a crust nubbin). This new addition isn’t the best in the world, but it is at least better than Ginsters, and I eat one every weekend as a matter of religion.

More importantly though, James Sherwin was kind enough to allow me to try his plant-based taster menu and it was out of this world. OUT OF THIS WORLD. I still have dreams about this little parsley cake he made. It was like in the Wizard of OZ, where Dorothy’s world turns into colour but then has to go back to being black and white and she is all sad about it. My food has been black and white ever since.

4. Tell me something about being vegan I, and other people, might not know?

Human beings aren’t designed to consume milk (human or otherwise) past the age of about 7 years old. If you don’t believe me, you can do a fun little science experiment where you stop drinking it for a few weeks and then go on a milk binge. I promise you will become really intimate with your toilet bowl very quickly.

5. Most people ask you what you miss the most but I want to know what you enjoy the most?

This is really hard to answer, because being plant-based or vegan or whatever is so normal now that you’ve just asked ‘what do you enjoy most about your food’. My partner is vegan, the majority of my friends and family are vegan or vegetarian, and so are a lot of people at work, so it is a bit weird to me when people talk about or eat meat and stuff.

I had to go through a re-education process when I switched, and now I know pretty much exactly what I am consuming. I never used to read the ingredients in something, and now I wouldn’t dream of eating something without checking the contents. I don’t eat the healthiest, but at least I know exactly what crap is going in my tum.

Also I love all the weird new things people are bringing out. I think companies become a bit more adventurous when making vegan stuff, and they are competing hard to dominate the market so you get some top notch products.

6. We talk about fitness a lot with us both going climbing and you being a keen runner, but what are your tips on sticking to your goals?

Don’t have goals. I know that probably goes against the advice of every instagram fitspo ever, but if you are like me and not really goal orientated, don’t bother. I always feel like saying I want to lift Xkg by X date just sets me up to fail instantly. I really hate being told what to do – even by myself – so I am just going to self sabotage if I put those limits in place. It is much easier for me to think ‘hey this move/workout/sport looks fun, I wonder if I could do that’, or ‘I wonder if I could deadlift my bodyweight’, or ‘I bet I could out pull-up so-and-so’. That keeps my tiny peanut brain far more engaged. The more engaged I am, the more exercise I do, and the more crisps I can eat. So exercise = crisps. And that’s my main motivation and love in life.

But most importantly, everyone who has ever spent more than 15 mins with me knows I HAVE to exercise, so it kind of isn’t a choice. I have too much energy. I am like a border collie – I will wreck your house (or car) if you don’t take me for a walk.

As a side, I think it is important to remember that women in sport is a relatively new phenomenon – we’ve only been permitted to race in marathons since 1972. We are lucky enough to live in an age and society where women have a fairly decent representation in sport (although, I’m looking at you UCI who still aren’t allowing a 50/50 split of cyclists for the Olympics), and I am doing my best to take advantage of that for the women that couldn’t. So cheesy, I know.

7. Challenge: Name one thing you’d love me to bake or cook for you!

I don’t really have a sweet tooth, and I am desperate to try roasted cauliflower. I know it seems basic and I could do it myself, but I hate cooking so would rather someone else did it for me.

Although god I love mince pies and I can’t get them right. Could you make me some mince pies pls.

8. What’s the best thing you’ve learnt by being part of the TPT Team?

I have learnt so much about photography! Damn girl, you work hard to get the shots. It is so scientific too, which I love. Creative and sciencey. Also learnt that I can disagree with you and still have you as my best friend. As Iliza Schlesinger says ‘one woman’s existence is not the negation of yours’ – i.e. we can both be right. So profound.

9. When’s our next trip and where are we going? It’s your turn to plan I think!

Peaks or lakes I think, probably after your birthday, so in Feb. We like it cold, like our hearts, and as it is for your birthday and I am such a fantastic friend – I will let you plan it.

10. Name three people, past or present, that you would like to have dinner with and why?

Only three?

  1. Emma Pooley – Emma is a former pro cyclist, who just dominated time trial cycling and road racing, and pretty much everything else for a number of years. She then retired, and got involved in triathalon, long distance running, duathalon, but was like hey the 2016 olympics looks fun actually, I will represent the UK thanks v much. Plus she also has a pHD in geotechnical engineering. WHAT.
  2. Robert MacFarlane – One of my most favourite writers of all time. He focusses primarily on nature writing and is big proponent of the environmental movement which ya’ll should know I’m into. Also, he was once really nice to me when I sent him a message on social media.
  3. Jasmine Parris – Jasmine is an ultrarunner who won the spine race (268 miles) earlier this year. Not only was she the first woman to win the race, she actually set the record of completing it in 83 hours (previous record was 95 hours, previous female record 109 hours), and actually beat all other men and women in the race. PLUS, she has a 14 month old daughter, works as a vet, and is completing a phD in acute myeloid leukaemia. WHAT x2.

If you’ve just read through this a realised that Immy is as cool as I make out, then head on over to her Insta and give her a follow!

And if you’d like to give the recipe pictured here, please find the recipe below.

Harissa Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad

INGREDIENTS

1tsp Harissa Paste
1tbsp Rapeseed Oil
1 Cauliflower, cut into florrets
1 tin Chickpeas, drained
A Pinch Salt & Pepper
Handful Rocket
1 Avocado, sliced
½ Lemon, juiced
¼ Cucumber, sliced
½ Pomegranate, seeds only
1tsp Black Sesame Seeds

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.
  2. Place the harissa paste and oil into a medium bowl, season and mix.
  3. Toss the cauliflower and chickpeas in the paste mix and place on a lined baking tray.
  4. Roast for 20-30 minutes, checking regularly until the cauliflower just starts to brown.
  5. Prepare your salad ingredients ensuring you coat your chopped avocado with the lemon juice to avoid browning.
  6. To serve, layer the rocket, avocado and cucumber on a plate. Place the roasted cauliflower and chickpeas on top and garnish with pomegranate seeds and sesame seeds.
  7. Enjoy!

A huge thank you to Immy for taking the time out to chat with me… Honestly, I didn’t force her that much!

Make sure to get in contact if you’d like to join me around the table for a chat!

Cheers,

Nat x

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