Future Food Stars: Clapton vegan chef set for Gordon Ramsay TV show

Valentina Fois, founder of Lele's cafe in Hackney

Valentina Fois, founder of Lele's cafe in Hackney - Credit: Lele's

A Clapton vegan chef will be starring in Gordon Ramsay's latest BBC show to find the UK's Future Food Stars. 

Valentina Fois is the founder of vegan cafe and bakery Lele's in Lower Clapton Road. 

The Italian-born chef will be one of 12 contestants competing on the new programme Future Food Stars. 

Lele's vegan brownies

Lele's vegan brownies - Credit: Lele's

Gordon has hand-picked 12 up-and-coming food and drink entrepreneurs to compete to earn £150,000 of investment. 

Valentina says featuring in the show is an "incredible opportunity". 

"I am having the chance to promote veganism and of course my business – it’s amazing," she said.

Lele's patisserie tarts

Lele's patisserie tarts - Credit: Lele's

 Valentina grew up just outside of Rome surrounded by "amazing women making food". 

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She said: "Food has always been at the centre of every gathering and family reunion.

"Preparing and eating food with my loved ones has always bought me so much joy and is the best way, in my opinion, to give something back."

Lele's can be found on Lower Clapton Road

Lele's can be found on Lower Clapton Road - Credit: Lele's

The chef says London has had a big influence on her cooking.

When she moved to the capital in 2009 Valentina was "astonished" to discover so many cuisines coexisting in a single city. 

"So with my food I try to mix all the things I like and not be afraid to play with spices and recipes that, on the paper, should not be put together," she said. 

Valentina and her team at Lele’s offer an online shop selling hand-made treats such as red velvet donuts, afternoon tea, Bakewell tarts, brownies, banana bread, hamper’s and vegan cake mixes.

Lele's opened in Hackney in 2016, an area which "always felt like home" to Valentina. 

Lele's afternoon tea

Lele's afternoon tea - Credit: Lele's

She told the Gazette: "I love the community here, it is so diverse and multicultural."

The eatery started life as a vegetarian cafe but became fully vegan in 2017. 

Valentina said: "I turned vegan myself and it didn’t feel right to serve animal products when I don’t consume them myself.

"It has been a personal journey of discovery for myself and, being able to share my knowledge with my customers is very rewarding."

Valentina and the Lele's team will be running a series of free vegan cooking classes at the cafe throughout May and June, every Saturday from 4.30-6pm.

Future Food Stars will air tonight (March 31) at 9pm on BBC One. 

Find out more about Lele's at www.leleslondon.com