Vegan cuisine will not have a great impact unless we create great chefs” – Vegan Chef Day
Food is Love, and Chefs are love-sharing food-making champions… right? Sadly, It seems that reality is not always aligned with ideas, and my wonderful friend and business partner, Vegan Chef Day, opened my eyes to this reality!
When Day first started as a “newbie” vegan chef, she discovered that her expectations were not met in the kitchen! It was 2010 and she was working in her first professional chef job. The kitchen was a maelstrom of grumpy, tetchy chefs,barking at each other whilst churning out food with as much care as a factory robot. Any love for food resided solely with her. The rest of the ‘team’ were not vegan or vegetarian and couldn’t care less about cross contamination. They were “grown boys” stuck in a career that was the best of a limited choice given to them at age 16: work as a mechanic, builder or chef. For many, becoming a chef seemed like the easy choice. The long unsociable hours, minimum wage and sweaty, greasy conditions, soon made it clear that it is far from easy.
With this new information, I started observing the reality in some non-vegan restaurants and pubs around the globe! From a patron’sperspective, asking for a vegan meal, in a non-vegan restaurant, oftentimesmeans a basic, tasteless salad! Even a Michelin Starred restaurant, in South Africa, only managed to make me a plate of very fancy roasted carrots.
Chefs’ “reality” is a persistent problem in UK kitchens, as abroad! In addition to the stressful kitchen environment, as shared by Day, the lack of flexibility through classic cooking training is a barrier to the inevitable need and demand for delicious and fun food without animals in it!
Day, as a vegan chef and I, as a vegan cook, are aware that chefs hold a great responsibility when preparing food, even more so, when preparing vegan food! That dish may convince someone to become vegan or help them to remain vegan! Each plate of good food adds weight to the vegan choice. It says: ‘this is delicious, you are not missing out, so yes, you can do this’.
For people on the vegan cusp that single plate could mark the deciding moment. For the V-curious, wanting to dip a tentative toe, if thatdish is bland they will ascertain that ALL vegan food is bland and steer clear of it in the future. The culinary art of vegan, sustainable and compassionate cuisine needs to be showcased by talented vegan chefs.
This is the reason we have created The Vegan Chef Institute. The Institute launches on November 1st, World Vegan Day.
Our mission? To provide the vegan movement with a progressive centre of learning and innovation so that we can develop a cuisine that is truly deserved and needed. We kick off the Institute with a fast-track vocational course designed to propel keen home-cooks into their first job as a professional vegan chef, as well as helping classically trained chefs to expand their repertoire with delicious plant-based options.
The course is designed to be a game changer, not only creating amazing chefs to work in professional settings but for restaurants and catering companies to have the right staff to embrace the present and future demands for delicious plant-based food!
The combination of careful and personal tutelage, with aninternship element to the course, will give students everything they need to take that first exciting step on the cooking career ladder.
The course runs from January 13th, every Sunday, for 12 weeks. Our kitchen site in Battersea, South London, allows each of our 8 students their own station and hobs, with plenty of space to make and create. We will celebrate and showcase the work of our class at a student-led supper club at the end of the course. Family, friends and the vegan community will be invited to eat with us.
You can find out more and book a place onto the course from 1st November at www.theveganchefinstitute.com