Exclusive: Hemsley + Hemsley on Food & Style
Loved by the food, fitness and fashion industries alike, sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley launched their family food business in 2010. Food lovers with a passion for wellness and delicious, nutrient-dense cooking, Hemsley + Hemsley wrote the international bestselling cookbook The Art of Eating Well and are contributors to Vogue.co.uk and The Guardian. Jasmine and Melissa also cook and consult for celebrities and high-profile events around the world.
What was your first job?
Jasmine: Babysitting! Then working school holidays as an admin assistant and a scenic artist before going on to model full-time.
Melissa: I worked as a footwear brand manager straight from school and then in marketing and promotions for gastropubs and bars.
When and why did you decide to become chefs?
Melissa: To be honest, it took us some time to consider ourselves chefs! We don’t have a ‘Cordon Bleu’ education or any fancy knife skills. Instead we combined our love of home cooking and good food with a back-to-basics philosophy on nutrition and this, along with our passion for helping others, organically evolved into a business.
Jasmine: I worked full-time as a model from the age of 19 and was fascinated by the different ideas surrounding health and nutrition. Over the years I developed a way of eating that made me feel energised and toned without needing to pay my dues in the gym. I found that natural, easy-to-digest and nutrient-dense foods were what truly counted despite whatever ‘fads’ were being hailed by the media. My ‘aha’ moment was finding several books that confirmed my instinct that natural saturated fats are good for us. I was soon sharing tips with friends and family, then Mel caught the bug and helped spread the word.
Melissa: After a trip to Australia 5 years ago, we were determined to bring that holiday feeling of sunshine and vitality back to our hectic London lives. We joked, “wouldn’t it be great to have a family business making the food that keeps us happy and energised and be able to share it with everybody?” With no concrete plans but, plenty of passion and willingness to work hard, here we are today!
Would you say forgoing the traditional cooking school education has meant you are more creative with your methods and ingredients?
Melissa: In some ways yes! Instead of being led by the rules of a cookery school education we’ve been able to focus on taste and nutrition. We champion honest food cooked in an honest way, with no frills or fads, just great tasting dishes that are good for you. Everything is free from grain, gluten and refined sugar. The meals showcase a rainbow of vegetables, focus on the provenance of fats and wherever possible feature our secret weapon - bone broth. We make clever use of whole foods to reinvent classics - pizzas are made from cauliflower or chickpeas, fudgy brownies from black beans and spaghetti from courgettes (courgetti).
What do you make of food fads and the fashion industry’s food habits?
Melissa: Often in the fashion industry, people are stressed-out and time-poor so they gravitate towards the ‘quick-fixes’. Juice cleanses, extreme detoxes or fad diets may seem like the answer but they’re not a long-term solution. Our food is to enjoy every day, not just for short-term fixes. It is delicious, nourishing, energising wholesome food, free from gluten, wheat, grain and refined sugars. We begin with providing clients with the food they need, then share our knowledge with them and their families - they all get the cooking buzz!
How do you approach personal style?
Melissa: Most of my wardrobe is dresses. We’re often dashing around, so an easy outfit and a bag with room for a laptop and snacks is essential. We both love heels - just not too high for me. They go in our handbags, so if we end up going out we can just slip them on. They completely transform an outfit.
Jasmine: We just dress how we feel best and that usually means comfort. I love knitwear that can be dressed up or down with heels or flats. My go-to outfit is usually a good pair of jeans, a sweater and some flats.
How do you wear your Chinti and Parker pieces?
Jasmine: I’ll usually wear a Chinti and Parker jumper [as above] with a long A-line skirt or an interesting pair of pants. I really like the look of knitwear on bare skin - which can be a pain if you end up somewhere hot with no t-shirt underneath!
Melissa: I wear my big and slouchy jumper (often stolen by my boyfriend) with dresses, or my fitted jumpers with high-waisted jeans.
Do you ever have an off day where you eat pizza in your pyjamas?
Jasmine: Pyjamas and days off are a must. As for the pizza, it’d be our Flower Power pizza [above] made with a cauliflower base!
Jasmine and Melissa’s first cookbook, The Art of Eating Well is packed with over 150 nourishing recipes that are free from grain, gluten and refined sugar. Earlier this year Jasmine and Melissa launched the Hemsley spiralizer, their kitchen utensil for transforming vegetables into pasta-like spirals. www.hemsleyandhemsley.com @HemsleyHemsley.