We talk to the healthy food darlings of social media, Foxtel, and Vogue, Hemsley + Hemsley, about their meteoric rise and how it's transformed their lives.
Hemsley + Hemsley’s two books, The Art of Eating Well and the recently published Good + Simple, along with their debut TV series, Eating Well with Hemsley + Hemsley, which is screened on Foxtel, have shown the world how delicious, imaginative, and easy healthy food can be.
Jasmine and Melissa, can you share how your passion for the food you create began. We take a holistic approach towards wellbeing with food at its heart, because our passion doesn’t just lie in healthy eating, but in tasty food we enjoy. In going back to real foods, with no worry of kilojoule counting or fear of natural fats, you can get away from all that guilt and deprivation.
Our style is back-to-basics nutrition: meat and two veg. Avoiding grains and processed, refined and sugary foods, and dining out on a rainbow of vegetables means our recipes attract vegans, vegetarians, paleo, primal, and raw foodies alike. We’re big on gut health and our mantra is “good food, good mood, good digestion, good health”. Our secret weapon for nourishing the gut is bone broth, a frugal and ancient food packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, collagen and keratin: it’s our elixir for glowing skin. Natural fats, the provenance of our food, and keeping even natural sweeteners to a minimum are other key attributes of the H+H philosophy. We wrap it all up in easy, comforting recipes for delicious, nutritious food that works for busy lifestyles. We’re hot on one-pot dishes like soups and stews and spiralised veggies for just that reason!
Talk about the evolution of H+H. Jasmine: I’d been working full-time as a model since I was 19 and had become fascinated by the many different ideas surrounding health and nutrition. I began to develop and grow the Hemsley + Hemsley way of eating through research, study and self-practice, all while sharing tips and tricks with friends and family. Mel, who worked as a footwear brand manager and later in marketing and promotion for gastropubs and bars, caught the cooking bug and helped spread the word.
Melissa: The turnaround moment came after a trip to Australia where we, along with Jasmine’s boyfriend Nick, were determined more than ever to bring that holiday feeling of sunshine and vitality back to our hectic London lives. We jokingly said, wouldn’t it be great to have a family business making the food we all want to eat, food that keeps us happy and energised without struggling and be able to share it with everybody? Pretty soon word had spread and private clients came to us to help them start eating well. So the business itself really started as a bespoke catering service, aimed at helping people improve their digestion and relationship with food.
Within two weeks of launching our own food blog we were asked to become regular contributors to vogue.co.uk. Soon after we began developing our first book, The Art of Eating Well, as a go-to guide for people to use as a foundation for changing their eating habits and enjoying delicious, healthy food that made them feel great. Since then we’ve released our second book Good + Simple, launched our Hemsley Spiraliser, seen our debut TV series air internationally and opened our first ever day-to-night cafe, Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges, in London. So with no concrete plans but plenty of passion and willingness to continue learning and work hard – here we are today!
The café at Selfridges is really exciting: how has this changed your lives? Yes, we’re so thrilled with our Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges cafe! It’s great to come face to face with our readers and see them enjoying our food. We recently had a lovely couple come straight off the plane from Sydney to have their first lunch in London at our cafe!
You address two key perceptions associated with healthy food: no time to cook, and why bother anyway because healthy food is unappetising. Feedback from our readers is one of the biggest drivers and sources of inspiration for us. So many of them get in touch to say they couldn’t believe how delicious our Avocado Lime Cheesecake is, that their office colleagues loved the Paradise Bars they’d taken in as a desktop snack, or that their husbands are now courgetti converts! Once you see and feel (and taste!) the effects of good, nourishing, whole and healthy food, and see how easy it is to make, it really sticks with you for life.
How has social media/blogging changed the perception of healthy eating? Greatly, as it allows people to see how people eat every day. Unlike picking up a cookbook or watching us on TV, you’re seeing day-to-day what we make for breakfast, the snacks we carry around in our handbags, or what we like to order when we eat at a restaurant. It’s daily inspiration! It allows social media followers to have that extra insight and see how what we explain in our books, through interviews, our blog or TV series can be applied to everyday life.
What are your future plans for H+H? We’re loving our cafe at Selfridges where we’re always developing new recipes. This has turned into our little hub where we can meet the customers and be inspired with fresh ideas. We also baked for Christmas time: we love putting our twist on traditional favourites. Additionally, we continue to cook and consult for celebrities (some clients include Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Vivienne Westwood) and high-profile events around the world.
Can you share some tips for packing maximum nutrient value into everyday food? Yes – this is our forte! Many of our recipes are classic dishes with a Hemsley twist to make them more nutritious and get the veggies in. You’ll find carrot pulp in our flaxseed crackers and multi-seed crackers as well as our lamb meatballs, where they add a touch of sweetness and make the meat go further. We add protein-rich chicken livers to our Bolognese sauce and when it comes to the pasta, we use our Hemsley Spiraliser to serve up spaghetti-like strands made from vegetables – anything from carrots and zucchini to celeriac. Our deliciously rich curries are served atop rice made from cauliflower or broccoli, which we also make into mash to team with grass-fed steaks or to top a chicken or fish pie! One trusted ingredient which we add to many of our recipes is gut-loving bone broth. It’s a fantastic source of protein that is also frugal as it’s made from the bones left over from a roast or picked up free from a good butcher. Broth provides a tasty, satisfying base for soups and stews. And it's our secret weapon and elixir for glowing skin!
Any other comments you would like to make? Long live good food!