A tribute to SOUL Plant-Based cuisine
SOUL Cuisine stands for Seasonal, Organic, Unique and Local
Times are changing! Plant-Based is on the rise…
The recent burger-battle around fake meat is the tree (vegan fast-food) that hides the forest (creative plant-based cuisine). Don’t get me wrong, I have been waiting for plant foods to become widely available. I don’t deny that there are very interesting players out there like CalifiaFarms (plant milks), Oatly (oat milks), Violife (plant-based cheeses) or Miyoko’s (plant-based cheeses and butters)… The life of professionals especially chefs and restaurants owners is going to be greatly simplified by these types of good quality and widely available plant-based products.
Plant milks, creams, butters are real game changers, for sure. Yet you can make most of them quickly and easily by yourself.
Processed vegan foods are widely available now and useful in a lot of circumstances but that doesn’t imply that we have to limit our cuisine to them.
I just question the idea that we *all* should eat the same plant burger patty, use the exact same spicy sauce or even have the same avocado toast in every single vegan cafés anywhere in the world.
Diversity makes life more interesting. There is much more to discover and experience in plant-based cuisine than the very same açaí bowl to start your day.
Prepare food in-house and from scratch
I do believe that there is quality in food prepared from scratch by a specific cook in his kitchen using seasonal and mostly local ingredients.
I do like that Thai food doesn’t taste anything like French cuisine or Japanese cuisine. I am not sure if we need a « universal » blend of tastes.
I am more than inspired by cultivating differences, learning and sharing specific cuisines and techniques, uniqueness of ingredients and cooking secrets… You can cultivate your very own signature while feeling inspired by others and learning from a diversity of culinary heritages.
Cultivate your Style
I would like to write cooking books without recipes just talking about foods cultures, exploring techniques, different ingredients, flavors and influences… As I would love nothing else than simply sharing ideas and forms of inspiration for each reader to develop its own style based on what he really likes and what he can easily find at his local market. I try as much as I can to teach a plant-based cuisine inspired by local, seasonal ingredients, typical techniques and street-food secrets.
When you learn a range of techniques and you exercise your flavor balancing skills more than copying one recipe, you then develop your ability to adapt, to reinvent and to improvise based on your preferences. Inspiration is everywhere. Steal ideas, explore, experiment and in return share your insights.
Today as I am teaching at Blue Lotus in Southeast Asia, I am naturally very much inspired by local chefs, the rich street food scene and the beauty of local ingredients. I wouldn’t offer the same curriculum in Europe. I would go from spicy, sweet and sour Green Thai Cuisine to Mediterranean inspired cooking…
Set your own Rules
Please don’t stick to one recipe, one set of rules or past conventions. Set your own rules and take the risks to cook on your own terms!
Starting with a fun Game, the Market Challenge
Start easy. Don’t go to the market with a fixed shopping list or a recipe in mind… Try the opposite!
Allow you a limited budget (10$ / 10€). Get inspired by what looks good, what’s fresh, seasonal and interesting at this special moment in time… Give a shot on what the farmers, sellers are advising you…
Back in the kitchen, look at your basket and figure out something based on what you just found. Hopefully you will get to experiment with ingredients that you are not necessarily familiar with…
La cuisine de retour du marché, in French, aka improvising in the kitchen back from the market.
Chefs! Plant-Based Cuisine is the creative opportunity of a lifetime!
I know, I sound a bit dramatic right now… but think about it, French Cuisine has centuries of history as Japanese, Mexican or Thai cuisines… so where is there a cuisine for which everything is yet to be created? if not plant-based cuisine.
As director of education of a learning center for plant-based cuisine, I am looking forward to seeing more inspired chefs to open small eateries based on what they personally like the most, what they are inspired by and what they want to share with their guests. With open front kitchens and a counter to show their work, assemble « à la minute » and add the final touch as they plate. Offer something unique, by limiting the menu to a short list of choices based on what’s good at the moment and what the chef is truly inspired by. As guest or foodie, you trust the cooking team and you get to taste the best of what they have to offer.
There is a beauty to come to a place, where you can experience a specific taste, where the sauce has intriguing flavors like no where else, where there is a distinctive signature behind each dish.
Plant-based cuisine as a new speciality is a unique opportunity to create something new, free from any existing convention. There is so much room for creativity that it would be a pity to stick with the same smoothie bowl, the exact same veggie burger or plant-based pizza anywhere in the world.
Let’s play, experiment and craft the future of plant-based cuisine in a creative, tasteful and colorful way!
More on Plant-based Cuisine as a new Speciality
Christophe Berg, director of Education of Learning Center of Plant-Based Cuisine at Blue Lotus Hua Hin - and to find out more about me or reach out.