Finding a general lack of community among vegan chefs, Makini Howell, a lifelong vegan and chef-owner of Plum Bistro in Seattle, decided to organize pop-ups around the country and invite fellow chefs to help. It's her attempt to begin building the kind of network she'd like to see vegan chefs have.
For the upcoming dinner series from Thursday, June 6, to Sunday, June 9, at No Vacancy in Hollywood, Howell called on Roberto Martin, who authored Vegan Cooking for Carnivores and Shawain Whyte, executive chef at Blossom Café in New York.
Together, the three created a four-course prix fixe menu for $75 per person, which includes a wine pairing provided by The Vegan Vine — a new line by former NBA player John Salley. Items on the menu will also be made available a la carte.
“There's something from everyone on the menu. We each did two starters, two seconds, and two main dishes. Then we just mixed and matched them. If you do the wine pairing with Vegan Vine Wines, then you'll have a sampling of what all of us are doing,” says Howell, who has also written the cookbook Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle's Plum Bistro.
The result is a variety of dishes such as tofu crabcakes, cauliflower bisque, chipotle peach tempeh and tofu, seitan marsala, braised daikon and rhubarb-filled beignets with strawberry-ginger sauce.
There will be two seatings each night, one at 6 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. Like the food presentation, the ambiance of the dinner next week will echo Plum Bistro's casual yet upscale vibe.
“No Vacancy is at an old Victorian-style home. It's kind of a little staycation away from the normal life. The food fits amazing with the space,” Howell says. In Seattle, the majority of Plum Bistro's guests are not vegan, but what the chef calls “conscious omnivores.”
“I hope we can put together enough capital to have a space down there, because L.A. is ripe for it,” says Howell. “I think what I do is different from every other vegan restaurant, so it will be complementary. I always like to go into a community and complement it. I'm not about competing against people.”
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