An essential ingredient for creating inspired food

October 29, 2010 § 4 Comments

”You do find of course in a vegan restaurant the chefs themselves are often much more engaged and passionate with what they’re doing b/c the way in which they got to that place involved their own personal beliefs and philosophies moreso than in a traditional kitchen” – chef Daniel Mongraw of Saf in London

The following is a short Vegan Society interview with chef Daniel Mongraw from Saf, a well-known and highly rated (by non-vegans) vegan restaurant in London, with a dollop of food porn thrown in. Consider this a follow up to my post on inspired cuisine, in which I laid out my value-based appreciation for passionate food. In many ways, creating food of this calibre is a performance skill learned through practice. And as with any performance oriented discipline, passion is the catalyst for making okay performers good, good performers great, and great performers best in class.  

Categories aside, passion is the common thread that makes a restaurant’s food great or not. As Mongraw mentions, the passion of vegan chefs comes from personal values and so there is a natural drive to produce excellent food. He notes, “we can do things with textures, and flavors and senses, that the pleasures of eating food, you still get all that with vegan food“. With this goal, Saf is transforming the idea of vegan food from soggy sprouts to sensational, inspired cuisine; and the restaurant is changing diners’ perceptions along the way. Time Out voted Saf one of the 50 best restaurants in London, which has helped them to attract an even wider variety of diners, not just vegans and vegetarians who might not have high standards for the culinary experience. And the quality of the experience, not the cache or lack thereof (sprouts and tofu scramble, ick) is winning people over. With pioneers like Saf, Madeline Bistro and Candle 79, vegan food might one day make it onto the list of Friday night dining options. Imagine hearing, ‘should we go vegan, thai or molecular gastro tonight?’!!

Working in a vegan restaurant as a chef at the level we’re trying to work at is very exciting because there’s a sense that we’re trying to push the boundaries and do things that haven’t been done before and …be at a level that’s respected as just restaurant and just food.”


§ 4 Responses to An essential ingredient for creating inspired food

  • spabettie says:

    thanks for sharing this video – food porn is RIGHT !! this all looks DELICIOUS and gorgeous!!

    I LOVE the flavors that I have created from completely vegan food – and I love to SHOCK people with it !! 😀

  • “Should we go vegan tonight?” I like that idea. I do eat meat, but in very small amounts and can go weeks without even putting it in my dish. My roommate is vegan and we love going out to the great options in Austin for some good, really good, food. 😀

    • theveggie says:

      Wow, I didn’t know Austin was a good vegan spot. I know it’s got a very interesting ecclectic culture b/c of the uni. I’ll have to check it out on my next trek out to the mid-west. Anyway, you make a lot of great food at home (I’ll have to try your recipe for gnocchi). Similar passion & product, diff environment =)

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