He may look like a cross between Orlando Bloom and a young Johnny Depp, and on board a ship as well, but Daniel Bravo Garibi is no pirate of the Caribbean. He’s not there to steal your loot or your heart, as his mission is to fill tummies with nutritious and healthy food.
More hero than foe, Daniel is the resident chef of Greenpeace’s campaign ship, the Rainbow Warrior.
He cooks for the ship’s crew, a responsibility that entails preparing meals for 16—or sometimes more—people and 15 different nationalities on board, hoping to help save the planet in the most delicious way.
Traveling when eating
Daniel likes to transport the crew members to their respective home countries through his cooking.
He shares, “You have to… travel. For me it’s like traveling to their own countries. Like today we made rice noodles with vegetables and some tofu as well. And for some of the crew members, that might remind them of home.”
“Later tonight I could make gnocchi, like the Italian would. And for some of the people from Europe, it could be closer to the food that they eat.”
“I also like to cook Moroccan food or Middle-Eastern food even if none of those nationalities are on board; or we could ‘travel’ to India and make a big Indian feast. So it’s always like trying to travel around, and to source the basic needs for each nationality.”
Eating with conscience
“I always try to eat with my conscience; to research on how my food is produced,” he said.
Daniel specializes in creating dishes using readily available local ingredients obtained from trustworthy sources. He prefers to buy produce directly from local farmers over industry giants.
He explains, “We want to make a positive change on the environment and for the people. We source from local producers. Many times it’s a challenge, but it’s a fantastic challenge. I love this challenge because it just lets my creativity explode. I could be so creative, and I try to maybe make a dish with a specific herb or product that I found here and translate that into really good food.”
Most of the food on board the Rainbow Warrior is plant-based, but this doesn’t mean that Daniel serves only vegan dishes. He also uses animal-based products as long as they are produced through ethical and sustainable means.
Dazzled by Farmers Market
When the Rainbow Warrior docked in the Port of Manila recently, Daniel found himself in Farmers Market in Cubao.
“It’s a huge market; it’s beautiful. It’s phenomenal,” he exclaimed.
He recalls more about the experience, saying, “There are farmers there with big production, and also people selling products from other farmers. But there are also farmers with small production, and their products may not be certified ‘organic’ but you can see there they are organic. They don’t use chemicals or pesticides.”
“You can interact with them, talk to them. They will tell you the nutritional values, what they use this herb or plant for. We purchase from them so we can maintain a really healthy diet, because we’ll be helping them, and helping the planet as well.”
A lifelong vocation
Daniel is also a confessed environmentalist and activist. He volunteered with Greenpeace 15 years ago after communing with nature as a volunteer in a national park in the Mexican jungle.
He recalls, “That was one of the most amazing experiences in my life.”
Despite having lucrative jobs in the food industry and the opportunity to cook powerful personalities in his country, Daniel believes he has found his lifelong vocation.
“In this job, and with those small actions, you really feel better about yourself. This has given me so many reasons to make a difference, and so much satisfaction.”
“I cooked for the Mexican president. I cooked for a multimillionaire Mexican businessman. But none of that could compare to cooking for the volunteers, the activists, and all the people from Greenpeace, who all put their hearts into trying to change the planet,” he said.
Daniel himself is very passionate about saving the environment, and explains why.
“When you can see the beauty of nature, you can also see all of the damage that we are causing, and we need to help nature. If we help nature, we will be helping ourselves. In many ways nature communicates with us, and helps us to protect her.”
Through his cooking, Daniel also hopes to dispel the most common misconceptions about plant-based food: that it is not tasty and that it will make one weak.
“Having a meat culture, many of the culinary techniques food preparation focus mainly on meat. We need to find better ways of cooking plant-based food.”
“It will help you lose weight, feel lighter and more agile. Nature provides us with enough really good quality nutrients. We just need to research more on how to get those nutrients. Honestly, you can find nutritious and super tasty plant-based food. I can even give you recipes,” he said.