Conscious Cooking

Interview: Oficina

Oficina, where culinary artistry and mindful dining intertwine to create a symphony of flavours and experiences. Founders Zana and Naiara, the visionary minds whose shared vision gave birth to this vibrant canteen and studio. Fueled by their passion for exceptional food and a drive to create unforgettable culinary adventures, Oficina is a place where inspiration flourishes, and guests are warmly embraced to relish each and every moment.

1. How did you guys meet?
During our studies at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute.

2. How did the idea of Oficina start?

When I started cooking, I got quite some catering requests. Zana helped me from the beginning with my identity and translating food ideas into a concept, in order to create unique food experiences. At one point we got so many requests, that we started wondering if we shouldn’t open our own dream space. We had travelled together already to places like Japan and Los Angeles, and we always talked about what that space would look like and what things we would serve to our guests. Then it just happened, it was the right time and the right moment to open Oficina together, a place where both of our greatest passions would meet, and were we could share that with others.

3. What is your favourite dish to cook for your guests? And for yourself?
There is not one specific dish that I like to cook. It’s important for me to cook with high quality and seasonal ingredients, and I mostly cook dishes that I feel like eating myself. Therefore there is no difference between what I cook for others or myself. Our menu changes as often as our mood. I like mixing different ingredients, such as Korean rice cakes with a Basque pil-pil sauce.

4. Can you come up with 5 tips to cook more consciously at home?
1. Choose local, organic, and seasonal ingredients.
2. Plan meals, make a shopping list, and minimise food waste.
3. Cook using energy-efficient methods and appliances.
4. Include more plant-based meals in your cooking.
5. Reduce the use of single-use plastics by opting for reusable alternatives.

5. If you have to cook all your dishes with only 5 ingredients what would these ingredients be?
Olive oil, salt, rice, eggs, greens

‘When I started cooking, I got quite some catering requests. Zana helped me from the beginning with my identity and translating food ideas into a concept, in order to create unique food experiences.’

6. What are your kitchen essentials?
A good set of knives
My Japanese cutting board
Good pots and pans
Utensils such as spatulas, tongs, spoons, and a whisk.
Mixing bowls of various sizes for mixing ingredients.
Appliances such as stove/oven, refrigerator, blender.
Storage containers for leftovers and ingredient storage.
Pantry staples such as spices, herbs, oils, vinegar, flour, etc.

7. What is your favourite cuisine worldwide and why?
Korean and Japanese food is my favourite because of their bold flavours, fresh ingredients, unique culinary techniques, and cultural richness. The blend of spicy, savoury, and fermented flavours in Korean cuisine, along with the delicate and nuanced flavours of Japanese dishes, is the perfect combination for me.

8. What is the most fascinating restaurant experience you ever had?
Le Clarence in Paris and Etxebarri in the Basque Country.

Have you implemented this at Oficina? Not really, because they are both fine dining restaurants. But of course some of their dishes or ingredients have inspired me to make it into a more family style dish.

9. What do you like the most about owning a restaurant, hosting and cooking?
Being able the share the things we love the most with guests, being it a tea we brought back from Taiwan or a new dish that we put on the menu. Having a space where people can come and share a meal with their friends and family.

10. What would you like your customers to take away from their visit?
That they feel nourished, tranquil, and satisfied.

11. Is there anything you still dream of?
Building a food forrest somewhere where mountain meets the sea. I would also like to experiment and see if I could grow oolong tea somewhere in Europe.