One of the reasons I love being a chef is creating adventures in food, inventing new courtships between flavours and developing ways to experience the joy of eating, but most of all it’s being part of quiet and loud revolutions. From the absurd nouvelle cuisine of the early 80’s, to the mayhem of molecular gastronomy and the joy of global cuisine, there has been no greater revolution in the food world than the meteoric rise of veganism.
Intrinsically linked with lifestyle politics, industrial farming, animal cruelty, and planet stability, all worthy subjects, it’s so easy to forget the sheer joy of a salt-baked celeriac. Though for me, the creative process remains the same. The enjoyable challenge of producing amazing plant-based events is to build on your own personal flavour thesaurus, to challenge your historical palette, seek out new flavour combinations and not just rely on ‘meat and two veg’, with a fluffy foam and micro-herb.
Seitan makes the most amazing katsu and deactivated yeast flakes provide an intense umami blast. At the forefront is always flavour and utilising the whole armoury of techniques that we have to achieve it, whether through fermentation, dehydration, or the application of fire, water or ice. This is about elevating vegetables to a new-found worthy status.
As the great food sage Michael Pollan says, everything he's learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants," something which LVP’s MD Jon Davies also highlighted at International Confex this year.
Great food experiences should and can challenge people’s perceptions of what they like and dislike. There’s no harm in following trends, as long as you follow them for all the right reasons. The simple act of trying something new is one of life’s great pleasures. So go on, treat yourself, stick a celeriac in the oven – whole, unpeeled, with loads of olive oil.
Bring on the planquet: still seasonal, still yummy, always fun.
You can see Chef Andrew's Planquet menu below!
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