Thomasina Miers

The sustainability warrior leading a no-filter life

Tommi photographed at home by Caroline Irby

 

Thomasina Miers’ house is a window into an unpretentious soul. Her oh-let’s-just-get-on-with-it attitude is everywhere. Pots and jars of herbs and spices spill from cupboards, ancient looking well-loved pans hang from hooks waiting to rustle up the next top-notch dish and art painted by friends features (hung slightly skew-whiff) all over the house. While pregnant with her third baby Tommi ran Mexican restaurant Wahaca, wrote a weekly food column for the Guardian, organised a food festival for charity in her “spare time,” wrote a book AND still had time for friends, who admittedly she used as guinea pigs to test out new Guardian recipes. Happy, well-fed guinea pigs, I hasten to add….

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Her father built a mini-dressing room near her bedroom that houses evidence of an eclectic style including vintage hand-me-downs from granny and sale finds from Matches on Ledbury Road. It’s not all designer; there’s smattering of TopShop, Zara and high street favourite &Other Stories in there too, proof she is stylish yet unaffected by price point or label. Her style is the opposite of forced or slavish and trends are nodded to, but mostly ignored. It’s looking in her wardrobe you suddenly realise her life is one giant loveable mishmash in which her clothes reflect her cooking, her home, her kids, her humour, her spirit and her writing; it all comes so sincerely from the heart. There’s no filter on this life – what you see is what you get.

The gap in her two front teeth, her short black bob and her giraffe-like legs provide a unique kind of beauty. She is as bright as she is eccentric, as business minded as she is kind and when she turned forty this year and handed in her book three days before giving birth, I said, “Tommi, it’s time to relax now.”  And she looked at me with a giant glint in her eye that required no words. Rest? As if..

Yes, she’s a massive force of nature, which is nothing to do with having a job and three girls (welcome to the world, baby Isadore), it’s the giving of time, her charity work and her openness with others, plus the fact she’s always on your team. Believe me – we ALL need a Tommi on our team.

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I became a chef because….

I loved food and have always always cooked but I love people too and all that I had heard about working in restaurants were the painfully long hours and lack of social life. If I had had any idea how social and what fun chefs and cooks were I would have leapt into it sooner! I think coming into the career in such a circuitous route, via Ballymaloe, a year working in Mexico, Masterchef and straight into opening my own restaurant allowed me to sidestep conventions and meant I never really felt myself to be in a ‘man’s world’, more a fascinating world where I was always learning, always having fun.

I will be the first to admit that my work/life balance goes a bit haywire from time to time…

But I don’t think anyone ‘has it all’ and my life is rich beyond my dreams. Rich with my children, with my husband, with work I love and find endlessly fascinating, rich with colour. I never seem to stop learning and discovering new things. I could def. see my friends more and make a huge effort to see them when I can (cooking for a living def. helps here) and some day I shall take a year’s sabbatical where all I will do is read, look at Art and go to the theatre…

My parents were incredibly strict…

Far far stricter than I am but they were big on manners, values and love, three things I think are hugely important. Of course the manners and values are a work in progress with very young children (!) but I think showing your love for your children, along with a firm bottom line, does more good than almost anything else.

I would tell a new mum…

Don’t worry so much. Do your best, don’t be deterred by other women telling you what you are doing wrong just follow your gut instinct. Don’t criticise yourself too much. And most importantly keep making time for you and your husband. Just because you have children, it doesn’t mean you stop being married – make sure your husband knows he’s still important– that relationship should still be the most valuable to you.

Sale shopping is something I inherited from my grandmother…

It can backfire of course, when you buy a pretty dress in the sale, forget it at the back of the cupboard and then buy another, and another. Regular clear-outs are essential! I am a massive fan of hand-me-downs, a massive fan of childrens' second hand shops and a lover of all things H&M and Zara. Other than that I splash out in the occasional sale of something more fancy…having two girls is a terrible excuse to spend a little bit more than I need knowing it will get used twice. Still, as long as I can pass them down to another good home afterwards I won’t feel so bad….

Being pregnant with my third baby is magic…

I am so grateful to be having another so even if my body seems to be giving up at the seams and I dream about a post-baby body again (let me at my bicycle) I know how special it is to be having something growing inside me. I have also had masses of energy this time around, I think because of the three year gap, so have largely felt pretty wonderful.

What should we tell our daughters?

Be strong, be true to yourself, believe in yourself, don’t take any crap!!! Shoot for the stars, be kind to other people, have fun in life, be brave. So much to tell them – and so important to nurture them through those painful years of growing up.

I wasn’t terribly happy as a young woman…

I suffered a lot from depression and spent much of my twenties not being very kind to myself and judging myself pretty harshly. I was confused about what direction to go in and not good at standing up for myself either. It took a lot of work to pull through it all and I feel the more effort I put in, back then, the more I have got out of life since. I guess what I’ve learnt is to never give up, to fight for life and what you believe in and to keep trying. Life is a fairly long and tricky journey and on the outside it looks as if everyone else has it sorted but I think everyone has their own issues, every family has their problems. If you can just dig deep and do your best you will be a long way along the journey.

The most useful things in my store cupboard are…

Olive oil, anchovies, beans, vinegar, tins of tomatoes and rice….oh, did I forget the chillies!!!!?

When it comes to feeding my family…

I generally feed the girls a version of what we are eating which will be whatever is in the fridge or I have bought from the market the weekend before. We don’t really eat cakes or biscuits much although I am partial to a demerara laced oaty flapjack from time to time. I guess they would say their favourite is spag bol which I lace with diced carrots, celery and lentils. They always have fruit and plain yoghurt for pudding and have toast or cheese and crackers if they are still hungry. I try to make food fun for them at home and involve them in cooking and seasoning their food – I find they are much more likely to eat it if they have had some control over it.

Tell us a joke…

The only ones I know are quite long and very very smutty…..

My Favourite Things

My Kids Favourite Things

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