Chef praises plant-based diet

Chef Sarah Forrester-Wendt en­joys work­ing with veg­eta­bles at her Char­lot­te­town restau­rant

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FOOD - Ilona Daniel

Once thought of as the cui­sine solely be­long­ing to a spe­cific set of the pop­u­la­tion, meat­less meal prepa­ra­tion has come to the fore in re­cent years.

Ac­cord­ing to Loblaw’s Canada, 2017 will bring on the rise of the “con­scious con­sumer”.

“Cana­di­ans will put the spot­light on veg­eta­bles first with smaller por­tions of sus­tain­ably sourced pro­tein. Al­ter­na­tive pro­teins (think in­sects and plant-based) will in­crease.”

I’ve per­son­ally eaten in­sects on my trav­els to Asia (scor­pi­ons), and the prospect of main­stream home cooks pre­par­ing in­sects may be a lit­tle tough to swal­low, at least for now.

Al­ter­na­tively, plant-based pro­teins are in­creas­ingly ap­proach­able and af­ford­able. Chefs are cel­e­brat­ing veg­eta­bles by mak­ing them the star of the plate in 2017, and guests are will­ing and ea­ger to see the di­ver­sity of hum­ble veg­eta­bles like strik­ingly coloured root veg­eta­bles such as car­rots and beets.

One of the new­est restau­rants in the P.E.I. culi­nary land­scape plants it­self firmly along­side the veg­eta­bles it proudly serves. My Plum, My Duck, on Univer­sity Av­enue in Char­lot­te­town, is run by owner/op­er­a­tor, chef Sarah Forrester-Wendt, a self­pro­claimed “macro-mom”.

Forrester-Wendt is not new to the game of veg­e­tar­ian/ ve­gan cui­sine; it is a diet she was raised on since child­hood.

“I was raised on a mac­ro­bi­otic diet. My fa­ther re­cov­ered from stage 4 non-hodgkins lym­phoma over 35 years ago by adopt­ing this life­style.”

The mac­ro­bi­otic diet be­came pop­u­lar­ized in the 1960s and fo­cuses on the mind­ful con­sump­tion of or­ganic grains, beans/ sea veg­eta­bles and veg­eta­bles.

Chef Sarah has car­ried for­ward her life­time of un­der­stand­ing of the bal­ance and vi­tal­ity meat­less eat­ing can bring in her newly opened restau­rant. Her menu of­fers on-trend dishes, like Ra­men Noo­dle Bowls, tra­di­tional mac­ro­bi­otic soups, “Schteak” made from wheat gluten known as sei­tan and house-made desserts.

What can one ex­pect upon a first visit to My Plum, My Duck? “A bright, cozy restau­rant with a won­der­ful staff and a menu with a va­ri­ety of choices, says Forrester-Wendt.”

Chef Sarah loves the dis­cov­ery found in pre­par­ing veg­eta­bles as she finds it ex­cit­ing to “see how many things you can make out of each in­gre­di­ent. I love pick­ling. I pickle al­most ev­ery­thing.”

The name of the restau­rant is one with a great story, which is a lov­ing nod to her ties to her fam­ily and the in­cep­tion of Chef Sarah’s life­long jour­ney of meat­less meal prepa­ra­tion.

“The name of the restau­rant is a term of en­dear­ment. It’s what my dad called my mom

when I was a kid. It makes me happy.”

When it comes to the ben­e­fits of a meat­less diet, For­resterWendt thinks a plant-based diet is the health­i­est way to go.

“Peo­ple are of­ten sur­prised that you can eat a bal­anced meal and get all your pro­tein and vi­ta­mins. It’s great for your heart and can lower your choles­terol. Plus it can be re­ally fun and cre­ative.”

Chef Sarah’s recipe for a meat­less ver­sion of “crab cakes” is an il­lu­mi­nat­ing ex­er­cise in demon­strat­ing the di­ver­sity of plant-based pro­teins.

NIGEL ARMSTRONG/THE GUARDIAN

Chef Sarah Forrester-Wendt, right, is shown at her Char­lot­te­town restau­rant My Plum, My Duck on Univer­sity Av­enue in Char­lot­te­town, with chef Ilona Daniel.

NIGEL ARMSTRONG/THE GUARDIAN

Tem­peh “crab” cakes with su­gar and gluten free mus­tard pick­les, egg-free re­moulade, and sauteed collard greens are pre­pared by chef Sarah Forrester-Wendt at her Char­lot­te­town restau­rant My Plum, My Duck.

NIGEL ARMSTRONG/THE GUARDIAN

Chef Sarah Forrester-Wendt, left, and chef Ilona Daniel work in the kitchen of My Plum, My Duck restau­rant, pre­par­ing collard greens to ac­com­pany Forrester-Wendt’s ve­gan “crab” cakes.

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