Food: Leanne Masi from Luna & Fennel

Portrait: Leanne Masi / ©Rebecca Crawford | Right: ©Luna & Fennel

Leanne Masi is the woman behind the Instagram food account Luna & Fennel and creates gluten-free cauliflower pizza

Luna & Fennel first came to our attention when we were looking for good candidates with extraordinary content for our Top 10 Instagram Food Accounts. Unfortunately, it caught our eye a little too late to include in the article.

But due to some lucky circumstances, I was able to visit Leanne, the woman behind Luna & Fennel, a few weeks ago at her supper club at Ivy Berlin in Berlin-Neukölln – and for the second time, at that. Irrespective of my first, wonderful experience, this visit couldn’t have been more perfectly tailored to me: the vegan edition with Jessica Prescott. A gifted chef in her own right, I’ve been trying out the recipes in Jessica’s cookbook since it was published and I’m impressed with something new every time.

These two woman created something new and incredibly tasty at the Neukölln event, starting with a gluten-free and (obviously) vegan cauliflower pizza (Luna & Fennel’s signature piece) and a pumpkin-based pizza with vegan cashew cheese before rounding out the evening with a vegan tiramisu the likes of which I had never quite tasted anything like, and was beyond delicious.

So it makes me all the happier that we were able to get Leanne for an interview and ask her more about pizza and her future projects. In this spirit: Welcome, my dear!

How did you start with the concept for Luna & Fennel and why?

I came across the idea of cauliflower-based pizza a few years ago when my sister and I were experimenting with gluten-free recipes – she’s gluten intolerant. The very first base we made wasn’t perfect, but it was so tasty that it inspired me to spend the next year or so developing the recipe, including adding fennel seeds, just like our Nonna did in her pizza, and here we are!

Food has always been a big part of my life, we grew up eating our Nonna’s homemade pizza and my mum is the biggest foodie I know. In starting Luna & Fennel, I really wanted to see whether I could combine the principles of Italian cooking that I grew up with – fresh, seasonal, simple – with the concepts of gluten-free and meat-free cooking. There’s also a growing demand for gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan food, so I think the concept is very relevant.

You are now organizing supper clubs once a month at the beautiful Ivy Berlin Café in Neukölln. Why did you start doing that? From your personal point of view, what makes it special when people who do not know each other come together in order to share meals and eat?

Firstly, supper clubs are super fun and interesting to organize, like having your own mini restaurant for a night. I’ve always loved hosting people and throwing dinner parties at home, so I knew I would enjoy the process. They are also a great way to help build a brand and test your product.

For guests, I think it’s a really nice way to spend an evening – a different experience to going out for dinner because you feel as though you are part of something special, and that it’s a bit more exclusive. It’s a very organic way to meet like-minded people as you always get to chatting with people you wouldn’t have met otherwise and eat food you may not have eaten otherwise too. I actually still keep in touch with a couple of people I’ve met through supper clubs, which is so nice!

Do you want to collaborate with others in the future? And how did it happen that you paired up with Jessica Prescott from Wholy Goodness?

I would love to continue collaborating with others. It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to learn from. It’s also so much more fun planning and prepping with someone else!

The collaboration with Jessica was a little unexpected – but in a great way! I’ve followed Jessica’s food blog for a long time and own her cookbook, too. I absolutely love her food, ethos, and style of cooking – like her, it’s very natural, interesting, and unassuming. I invited her along to my supper club, after which she got in touch to ask whether I’d be interested in doing one together as both our concepts work so well together – so we did!

Leanne Masi & Jessica Prescott | ©Jess

What do you like most about what you’re doing? And are you planning to expand?

The thing I like about it most is that it has such a personal meaning to me, in being so connected to my family. Even though it’s just me running the day-to-day, I feel as though it’s a little family business as without my sister, mom, and Nonna, it simply wouldn’t exist. My sister also helps out a lot behind the scenes and we’re always planning her next flight to Berlin!

What are your next steps for the future?

I’ve just started selling at Street Food Thursdays at Markthalle Neun, so right now that is my main focus. I’m also planning my next supper club and collaboration and have a few long term goals in the early planning stages.

To stay updated visit Luna&Fennel via Instagram (@luna_fennel) here or make sure to follow her on Facebook here. To get further inspired by Jessica Prescott and her Food Blog Wholy Goodness, visit the website here, her Instagram account (@wholygoodness) here or take a closer look to her cookbook Vegan Goodness here.