Victoria Holder from ‘Victoria’s Creative Kitchen’ talks travelling the world in a camper van and cooking in unusual locations
Imagine quitting your day job, leaving your London flat and relocating to what once was a 16-seater minibus to travel the globe. Some might regard that decision as madness, others might dream of flipping their desks and ‘getting out of here’ on a daily basis. Though, one woman who is more than familiar with the life-changing decision is food blogger Victoria Holder (aka Victoria’s Creative Kitchen).
“My husband and I set up our blog in our London flat. We had big ideas and aspirations but not the funds to back them up. I worked online and was tired of the same view outside my window and dreamed of travelling the world. Then out of the blue we were given the opportunity to by a minibus. We jumped at the chance and decided to convert it into our dream home on wheels and named her Manjula,” explains Victoria.
Manjula isn’t just a dreamy blue camper; it’s the van we like to call ‘the blog cabin on wheels.’ Manjula is the unexpected opportunity that enabled Victoria’s Creative Kitchen to hit the road, travel through Europe, and now North Africa, cooking an array of nutritious and delicious plant based dishes in different cuisines and mise en scenes, in the hope to inspire others through beautiful photography and quirky videos on their blog.
“My goal is to spread the joy of tasty vegan food. The videos me and my husband create demonstrate vegan cooking in fun and unusual locations- showing that despite limited space you can still cook delicious food where ever you are,” Victoria tells.
“Life on the road is always changing. We park up in new settings, towns or countries with different ingredients at my fingertips so you never know what you are going to see next. I have all my spices and ingredients with me so can live off grid,” the cook explains.
Having travelled through Northern Spain and ventured Portugal already, you can’t help but wonder about cuisines Victoria has come to love, the spices she’s discovered and the food stories she has to tell. Sure, we all have the opportunity to test and try foreign food on our jollies, or at our local restaurant, but envision cooking up your favourite cuisine in its origin. That’s pretty special.
“I remember in the beautiful Serra Estrela National Park in Portugal I made a Leek and celery soup and enjoyed it at the bottom of the Poco do Inferno waterfalls. In winter we travelled along Portugal’s magnificent coast and often had the beaches to ourselves. At the stunning Figueira beach I made a Chunky Chickpea Chilli which was a perfect winter warmer,” Victoria recalls.
“Another highlight of our trip to Portugal was Porto and Lisbon where we found fantastic vegan eateries, along with visible signs of a strong movement through “Go Vegan” graffiti all over the cities,” she adds.
In hindsight, it’s the travelling and the experiences Victoria encounters that set her aside from other vegan food bloggers. The beauty of every dish she creates and posts on social, is that it is more than delicious plant-based fuel (it’s more than a plate that provides our body with its needed nutrition). Victoria’s recipes feed our minds just as much as our taste buds too. All you’ve got to do is take a look at her Instagram and suddenly you are no longer in your kitchen cooking a chickpea curry, but beach side in Portugal. We like to think of it as an escapist form of cooking- food inspiration with the capability of taking your imagination and dinner beyond the four walls you have become so used to cooking in.
Victoria tells me, she’s currently parked up on the edge of the Moroccan Sahara with a stunning view of Erg Chebbi, watching the sunset over the mystical colour changing dunes taking in the surreal view. We get into a deep conversation about the art of veganising traditional dishes. “I am fascinated by all types of food and cooking and often feel inspired by the local cuisine in different countries and regions. I love to “Veganise” traditional recipes from the places we visit and create them in our camper such as Moroccan Tagine or Spanish Paella,” she says.
“Also, vegetable tagines have been a culinary highlight and an inspiration to me. Dipping freshly baked Moroccan bread into the tagine pot for that mouth-watering roasted vegetable taste is unforgettable. I have just bought my first tagine pot and I have loved learning to use it and adding my own flare to more traditional recipes,” Victoria adds.
At this point my tummy is all of a sudden desperately craving Moroccan baked bread dunked in Balsamic vinegar, and I just want to jump on the first plane out of here to embark on this experience with her.
“We often visit local markets and I get a thrill from finding new ingredients to develop new recipes. In Morocco I discovered Daikon radish! I love root vegetables and had never seen or tasted this one before, which adds so much flavour to vegetable stews and soups. I was inspired to make a Moroccan Style Vegetable Stew with Fluffy cous cous,” Victoria explains.
“Lots of the ingredients look different from back in the UK and it is a pleasure to see fruit and vegetables in such a variety of different shapes and sizes. On the road I have learnt to be more flexible and adapt my recipes to suit ingredients that are available to me. This experimental way of cooking has led me to develop food combinations that I may never have considered before,” she adds.
You can tell by the tone of Victoria’s voice that she is driven to make her travelling plant based passion motivate fellow veganistas, and spark a fire in those who are thinking about opting for an animal-free diet. And whilst she is sharing all her incredible cultural creations through social to us at home, she is also informing fellow vegans in the countries she visits of good old’ vegan British classics too.
“Fellow travellers and local people are very interested in Manjula (our bus) and ask us questions about our lifestyle. She can be a great conversation starter and helped us to make many friends along the way,” says Victoria.
“With my kitchen on wheels I love to cook for the people that we meet and show them how delicious vegan food can be. It is fun to watch their reaction when I tell them my ‘No Bake Chocolate Brownies’ are Vegan.”
In between recreating different cuisines and discovering new ingredients, Victoria has also been exploring natural landmarks in each country. As our conversation slowly but sweetly draws to an end, she is adamant to tell us about one of her cherished memories (amongst many) she has made so far. “My most special moment was taking on the mighty Jebel Toubkal, the tallest mountain in North Africa. For the two day trek I made dark chocolate oaty energy balls which helped me to power on when I felt like giving up,” she explains.
“This personal challenge pushed me to my limits but the breath-taking views over snow-capped mountains and sense of achievement made all the pain worthwhile,” Victoria says.
As followers of her journey, we might not able to fulfil the very same experience as we aren’t currently in Morocco cooking and living in a minibus, but her visual documentation and storytelling enables us to have a pretty good idea of what it is like.
I patiently wait for our Wi-Fi to reconnect for the final minutes of our interview; I can’t help but reflect on some of the stories she has just shared. All I can think about is how Victoria has created a sense of ‘veganlust’ (a very strong desire to travel and try different vegan food) for us fellow foodies. So, whether you simply take away a tasty Spanish paella recipe from this interview, or whether Victoria has given you motivation to embark on your own journey, we have no doubt that she has inspired you.
“We plan to continue pursuing this adventure as long as the wheels on the bus keep turning! After leaving Morocco we travel through Spain, visiting Seville, Madrid and the mountains before our ferry back to UK to visit family and friends,” Victoria explains.
“Then, for the next leg of our journey we travel through France and into Italy before taking a ferry from Venice to Greece. We will spend the winter exploring the islands and in spring travel North through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. We are very excited about the road ahead and the opportunity to spread the joy of tasty vegan cooking,” Victoria says.
And we can’t wait for the next chapter either.
You can find out more about Victoria and her endeavours on her Facebook page.
Recipes from Victoria