Alright, the post we have all been waiting for--Vegetarian Awakening 2007. As one who enjoys eating continuously throughout the day, this was perfect. It went something like this: breakfast, tasting #1, tasting #2, tasting #3, lunch, tasting #4, tasting #5, tasting #6, dinner, dessert. That was just day one. However, I suppose you would like to read the real run down. Here we go.
After a breakfast of cornbread pancakes and tofu scramble, we went to the auditorium to see the first chef's demonstration. The chef was Cathi DiCocoa of Cafe DiCocoa in Maine. She had a very motherly way about her and peppered her demo with easy how-tos. She taught us how to make pistachio pesto, sweet potato pita, stuffed vine (grape) leaves, skordalia, hot olives, mouhamara and smoky baba ganouj. The picture features her with a smoked eggplant.
The next demo was by Tal Ronnen. Tal Ronnen started the Veg Advantage program to help food-service operators integrate vegetarian options into daily operations (hmm...he could be helpful for all of these local colleges). He is a chef at the Madeleine Bistro in L.A., so check it out if you are in the area!. He showed us how to make the shaved fennel, orange and quinoa timbale (middle), cajun grilled portobello fillets (right) and shiso wraps (left).
After the Ronnen tasting, Chef Sualua (rhymes with Kahlua) Tupolo presented. He was a very gregarious man with many stories to tell. He showed us how to make wasabi tofu mayo, fish patties, lemon meringue pie and jack cheese. All of his stuff was very good! It was interesting to learn about how to make my own vegan cheese.
We were pretty full after the morning's breakfast and tastings; nevertheless, lunch was served. It was salad and soup with many extras.
What goes well after a lunch? Dessert, of course! Fran Costigan showed us the secrets of her vegan hazelnut L'Opera cake. It seemed like a lot of work, although I am sure her precision measuring did not seem to make it any easier.
Following Fran was Ian Brandt, perhaps the quietest chef of the bunch. He is the chef at Sage's Cafe in Salt Lake City, providing raw and cooked plant-based cuisine. What was the most helpful about this demonstration was the side-by-side comparison of the raw and cooked appetizer, entree and dessert. Everything was very tasty and our table agreed that the raw won out over the cooked.
Peruvian Bryanna Clark Grogan was the next chef. She had veganized many of the Peruvian recipes from her family. I appreciated the colors and interesting plating techniques. She showed us how to make causa (tri-colored potato salad), tofu-quinoa chicharron (crispy fried tofu), trigo (wheat), anticuchos (kebabs), northwest-style mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding), and alfajores (pastries).
Even though we were stuffed to the gills, a three-course dinner was planned. Afterwards, we waddled across the street to the Spectrum Theater for presentations by Dr. John McDougall (left) and T. Colin Campbell (right). Both presentations were excellent. McDougall talked about the health and environmental benefits to a vegan diet while Campbell talked about the research behind his book The China Study (which he wrote with his son) and the link between cancer and dairy.
When we walked out of the presentations, we were greeted with a smorgasbord of desserts and sparkling apple cider. Matt was so excited about his desserts that once he got through the line, he counted 19 of them on his plate (see mini entry below)! That's like me eating a dozen cupcakes!
The next morning started with breakfast and a panel discussion. Aftewards, Chef Eric Tucker was the first to demo. He is the chef of Millennium Restaurant that I went to while I was in SF. He showed us how to make the grilled belgian endive salad with pink grapefruit, pink peppercorns and garlic-tarragon ranch dressing, bruleed and truffled mushroom pate with dried fig mustard chutney and asian root vegetable-mushroom broth with pea greens. The pate was awesome!
Ken Bergeron was supposed to be next, but he couldn't make it. Kevin Dunn took his place and showed us how to do a few things with tempeh. I wasn't a fan of tempeh at all until I tasted these recipes! I was amazed. We had seasoned baked tempeh, tempeh arizona and tempeh cakes with red pepper sauce and scallions.
The next chef was Chad Sarno, who opened a raw vegan restaurant in Turkey. His food was all raw and was very interesting to learn about. He made consommé, alfredo (right, bottom), rawvioli (bottom, top), cannelloni (bottom, left), hemp cannoli (middle) and chocolate milkshake. All of it was good, but the best parts were the beetroot rawvioli, hemp cannoli and chocolate milkshake. Mmmmm.
Kevin Dunn did a short demonstration of cashew creme brulee and heaven and hell (flambéd fruit with lite vanilla Tofutti ice cream). We received our boxed lunches and went on our way. What an amazing experience! The food was great and it was good to see many people fired up about compassionate and healthy cooking.