Chef Patron, Tredwells
When #WorldVeganMonth approached this November, Chef Chantelle jumped at the opportunity to showcase the existing plant-based options on the Tredwells’ menu. What started as a one-off celebration of these delicious and diverse options, soon transcended into a run of sold-out supper-clubs hosted throughout the month, and the participation in a much wider debate about the future significance of plant-based eating in our society.
The ethos behind #WorldVeganMonth struck a particular chord with Chef Chantelle. The celebration promotes “how accessible and beneficial a vegan lifestyle can be” and it was these notions of accessibility and education that really appealed: “Vegan, to me, is a lifestyle which can sometimes seem very daunting and negative to a lot of people,” explains Chantelle, “talking about plant-based food and how having a more plant-based diet can impact our environment is what excited me.”
Plant-based cooking is fundamental to Chantelle’s own personal culinary journey. Growing up in New Zealand in a country of a completely different economy of scale to the UK, seasonality tended to dictate what you ate. “You couldn’t get strawberries all year round so you only ever ate them at their very best”. Time spent on her family’s orchard, in Central Otago, surrounded by fruit and vegetables, meat played a secondary role in the makeup of most meals. “For me, that’s where plant-based eating really comes into its own, it’s seasonal eating, you’re going to get the very best of any food when eating it in season”.
Chef Chantelle is not vegan herself, but profoundly aware of its many benefits in regards to nutrition, health and most importantly, sustainability and the wider benefits on a global scale. “It all comes down to individual responsibility and what each one of us can be doing to make a difference” she explains.“Flexitarian style eating is interesting, eating meat once a week or just at weekends and buying local and organic produce that supports local producers, all has a huge impact”. Chantelle makes the interesting comparison to “deciding whether to walk or take the car” in terms of the environmental impact of regular meat consumption. She also puts a huge emphasis on the importance of education on spreading this awareness. “We’re not doing enough to educate kids from an early age about seasonality. They can visit a supermarket and get blueberries all year round, which is a little sad”. This is why Chantelle works closely with the Adopt A School Trust, a national charity delivering food education in schools, a major component of which is understanding seasonality and learning about food provenance.
Being a highly acclaimed and awarded chef is perhaps what sets Chantelle apart from other advocates of this style of eating. “#WorldVeganMonth has been a great opportunity to demonstrate how at Tredwells the level of thought and creativity that has gone into a plant-based dish is no different to the level of thought and understanding that would go into a meat or fish dish. It’s all about achieving that depth of flavour”. One of the most significant messages Chantelle aims to get across is that plant-based eating is not about simply replacing meat. “If we take the roasted cauliflower main course from the #Planted supper-club for example, that dish is a sum of many parts. There’s caramelised cauliflower purée as a base, with roasted cauliflower, pickled cauliflower stems; deep-fried cauliflower leaves; a cornichon and caper dressing that that adds a zing and cuts through the richness of the dish. Also a saffron garlic aioli, made with chickpea water, aka aquafaba, a little-baked lemon purée to add aroma and it’s then garnished with aromatic lemon balm”.
This approach to plant-based cooking is what also makes Chef Chantelle’s first solo cookbook Planted, particularly exciting. Inspired to develop restaurant-quality, plant-based recipes that can be cooked at home is something very new and interesting. ‘Planted’ offers an abundance of dishes, many of which have featured on Tredwells’ menu over the years, accessible and easy to make at home. It is not a book about veganism, it is about fantastic, delicious tasting food that just happens to be made without animal products. It is a true celebration of produce, seasonality, and flavour.
As this run of supper-clubs now comes to an end, Chef Chantelle and the Tredwells team have had time to reflect on the recent success of the events. “The biggest reward has been hearing non-vegan or non-vegetarians who have attended saying they didn’t feel like they’ve missed out without meat. First and foremost, food has to be enjoyable and satisfying, so it’s been incredibly rewarding battling the misconception that plant-based food can’t do that”.
If you are interested in what we’re discussing @Tredwells, be sure to follow us on our socials, as well as @chef_chantelle, and sign-up to our newsletter for more info on our plant-based journey and upcoming events.
Why not treat someone special to a truly unique dining experience with our 5-course plant-based tasting menu with matching, vegan wines. Coffee, tea or infusions, as well as service charge is included when you buy the gift voucher, here.
* for one person
Radio 4, The Food Programme, Grace Dent: Young and Vegan
The Vegan Calculator: How Much Can You Save