Seed Kitchen in Venice is a macrobiotic vegan restaurant, but chef-owner Eric Lechausseur may not emphasize it when he and wife Sanae Suzuki host a dinner party at home.
"I don't even tell people. I find that they don't know until I let them know," Lechausseur says. He makes hearty one-pot entrées like cassoulet with soy sausage and white beans or a three-bean chili. True to macrobiotic philosophy, the flavor profile changes with the season; he might opt for something spicier in the summer, whereas the dish would be thicker, more gravy-heavy in the winter. To complement the main dish, he'll prepare four to five other dishes -- grains, greens, or seaweed salad.
"When people come, they see four to five dishes in front of them. It's beautiful vegan food, but at the same time it's a macrobiotic way of cooking," Lechausseur says. "It's a balance of foods. You have the grains, the greens, the seaweed, and the protein. It's all there harmonizing. That's macrobiotic. It's more than just being a vegan. It's [about] including the whole balance of what's necessary in your diet everyday," he elaborates.
Lechasseur's own entry into macrobiotics began nearly two decades ago as a way to help Suzuki, who at the time was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "I was cooking for her and I decided to look into it for myself," he says, noting skin issues for which he was prescribed cortisone treatments.
"It took three months to see results. I saw it get worse before it got better," Lechausseur says. Eventually "I didn't need cortisone any more."
A professional background in cooking helped him make the transition to the new discipline. Lechasseur attended culinary school in Quebec, switching from a major in commercial marine navigation at the Quebec Maritime Institute in Rimouski. He then traveled to France and Japan to bolster his culinary education.
"It's about cooking from scratch. It's not something where you can open a can or put in a microwave. You need to cook for yourself," he says. "Macrobiotic cooking is getting to know oneself. Some people need more grains; some need more beans. Everybody is different."
"The most difficult part is going out, because you don't have control over what you're eating most of the time. At most restaurants, there's butter, cream, and sugar," he says. "As a chef, I know the ingredients that will go into a dish. I easily avoid this kind of stuff."
To the interested but uninitiated, he suggests seeking a macrobiotics consultant for a better grasp of how the diet would work for them.
Seed Kitchen's original kale salad with sesame tahini dressing
From: Eric Lechasseur
For the dressing:
1⁄4 cup white miso
1⁄2 cup sesame tahini
1 lemon, juiced
3⁄4 cup water
2 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1⁄2 tsp. chili sauce (optional)
Ground black pepper
1. Add all the ingredients in a blender and mix well. Refrigerate for up to a week.
For the salad:
12 oz. of kale, washed and chopped
1⁄2 cup shredded carrots
1⁄2 cup shredded jicama
1⁄2 cup whole almond
1. Bring water to boil in a 2-quart pan. Blanch the kale. Drain and then set aside to cool off.
2. In a large bowl, mix the kale, carrots, jicama and dressing to taste.
3. Separate the salad onto 4 plates, adding more dressing around the salad and whole almonds for garnish.
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