Magazine article Alternatives Journal

The Secret's Out: A Montreal Chef Is on a Mission to Prove How Decadent Vegan Food Can Be

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

The Secret's Out: A Montreal Chef Is on a Mission to Prove How Decadent Vegan Food Can Be

Article excerpt

AT, 16, MERIDA ANDERSON became a vegan and cooked her first meal. She opened a can of mini corn (which she loved) and cooked cauliflower (the only other vegetable in the refrigerator). She remembers that it was "truly awful."

Twelve years later, Anderson has become a successful self-taught vegan chef who infuses her original recipes with boundless imagination, a sense of adventure and a wide variety of fresh, organic and seasonal ingredients. She thrives on deviating from conventional vegan cuisine; for example, Anderson doesn't use fake dairy or fake meat. "I try not to substitute, but to cook so that you would never think anything was missing," she explains. Instead, her plant-based recipes rely on irresistible multicultural flavours such as maple syrup, cardamom pods, tahini and kombu (edible, dried kelp).

In 2008, Anderson's passion for sharing food with people led her to create Vegan Secret Supper (VSS), an "underground kitchen" that hosts recurring Sunday dinners and pop-up suppers for groups of friends and strangers (and often strangers who become friends) at apartments and homes in Montreal, Vancouver and Brooklyn, NY. A multi-course VSS meal--which normally lasts a couple of hours but takes about two or three days of preparation, including soaking nuts, making sauces and freezing desserts--becomes the foundation for a cozy, delightful evening among like-minded bon vivants. Chef Merida also aims to make her diners rethink the possibilities of vegan food, presenting dishes that are full of artful surprises.

Her new book, Vegan Secret Supper: Bold and Elegant Menus from a Rogue Kitchen, features 150 recipes that are ideal for holidays, a romantic dinner or impressing guests at your next dinner party. Recipes draw from Anderson's VSS events and the book assembles an exceptional fusion of starters, soups, salads, mains, sodas, desserts, brunch, breads and nut cheese--plus great advice about stocking a vegan kitchen, plate setting, fermenting and other inventive cooking ideas. …

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