Wilden.herbals meets/ An interview with Julia Tonkin
The author of our new zero-waste recipes talks about her journey and how the principles of seasonality are one of her favorite ingredients
It was destiny that Julia’s path would intersect with that of Wilden.herbals. For more than a decade, Julia has been immersed in the food & beverage industry with a special focus on creative transformation projects that can ensure a sustainable future for gastronomy. The buzzwords of Julia’s philosophy match Wilden’s perfectly, so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to make something good together.
This is how our new recipe book was born: each month you will find in our Botanical recipes column two new articles with dishes and drinks signed by Julia. You’ll notice right away that this project was created with some of our guiding principles in mind: reuse, as many of the recipes start with a once-used herbal tea bag; creativity in bringing herbs and spices into your kitchen in unusual ways; accessibility through super easy and quick preparations that are truly within everyone’s reach; and seasonality, tying Wilden products to fresh ingredients perfect for spring, summer and early fall.
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Tell us about your background and education
My background is a bit unconventional. I graduated from university in my home state of New York with a degree in Art History but knew that my path would take me elsewhere so I moved to northern California to follow my love of food, plants, and sunshine. I started working in kitchens and got involved in the organic farming and gardening scene there. I wanted to improve my culinary skills and sought out learning experiences that aligned with my values of a more sustainable approach to food, which took me on some travels around the U.S., all the way to Central America and Hawaii.
After this period of learning and exploration, I returned to California and continued cooking in a variety of different kitchens and as a private chef. It’s been both extremely rewarding and challenging to navigate a meaningful career in an industry that is broken; which is ultimately what led me here to Italy, where I’m now doing a Master’s program in Design for Food, a collaboration between the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Now I’m learning about how to use design to re-think the food system as a whole, which has been a super interesting and exciting opportunity.
How did your collaboration with Wilden come about?
When I moved to Milan last summer I was really happy to hear about Wilden and inspired to see a young company working with plants in such a pure way. I knew I wanted to get involved and reached out about creating recipes for the blog.
For me, herbs and plants have always been the star of the kitchen and an endless source of creative inspiration. So experimenting with the products and exploring alternative uses of herbal teas has been a really fun challenge.
Tell us how your recipes for Wilden came about
I created a series of recipes using Wilden herbal teas in the kitchen, for both food and drinks, in ways you may not have considered using a teabag before! I designed all of the recipes with three things in mind: to break down the boundaries of how people think about using herbal teas, to minimize food waste whenever possible, and to really embody the feeling of each season. This may be surprising because we’re working with dried herbs – which are inherently not season specific because they’re preserved.
Since my recipes will be released each month with the blog and the newsletter, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce the concept of seasonality into the user experience, which I think is a really powerful way people can create a connection with plants.
Healthy and wild is the motto of Wilden.herbals. What does it mean for you?
For me, it means living in the moment. Nowadays we have access to so much information and stimulation… which could be great but most of the time it proves overwhelming! I prefer to be able to embrace simplicity. I think being outdoors, being active, being surrounded by plants, soaking up the sun’s rays, and breathing fresh air are that much-needed break that really makes one feel free. The meaning of healthy and wild to me is being able to return to the concepts of authenticity and purity.