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.”