12: Mead’s Green Door – Gary Mead, Jr.

Episode 12 features Gary Mead, Jr. of Mead’s Green Door in Old Town Orange. Not to give away the secret (I swear if you take my corner table I’ll find you) but Mead’s is the best hidden gem in SoCal. It’s an eclectic little cafe with a hipster/artsy vibe serving simple yet amazing vegetarian and vegan staples. Think BBQ cauliflower taco salad, baked sweet potato fries (and chili fries), green smoothies, vegan tofu scrambles, burritos, and scones. Oh, gussy, those SCONES! Breakfast is served all day, there’s always a free table, and unlimited Wi-Fi. Mead’s is a freelancer/college student/foodie dream. Gary and I dig deep into all that is Mead’s, from its family-owned origins to the food that’s made with love. Cliche, I know, but when the pizza is shaped like a heart, the phrase is appropriate.  As always, listen, subscribe, rate, review, and share!

11: Vegan Street Fair – Jessica Schoech

Here we go! Episode 11 features the queen of vegan festivals, Jessica Schoech (pronounced “Shay” – weird, I know). Jessica is the founder of the wildly popular and successful Vegan Street Fair and Vegan Street Fair Nights, both in Los Angles, New York, and potentially coming to a city new you! Looking at you, Vegas, Seattle, and San Diego. Jessica curated these annual events so everyone, vegan or otherwise, can “Eat all the vegan things” in one place and time. However, her events are so entertaining and emit such a good vibe, you could attend, not eat a thing, and still have a blast. But of course, for your listening pleasure, we’re focusing on the food. Listen in for an awesome conversation about everything from nachos, the Impossible Burger, the best vegan eats around the country, and veganism as a lifestyle opposed to a diet. As always, listen, subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Show Notes:

  • What Jessica brought to the potluck: Health-Ade Kombucha Holiday Flavor (I tried it after recording – its good!)
  • What Tanya brought to the potluck: Yellow Cake with homemade chocolate frosting. Cake made with Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Cake Mix. A bit dense – its gluten free – but still delicious, especially when smothered in homemade chocolate buttercream and layered with homemade cookie dough. Oh yeah.
  • We mentioned that Happy Cow rated Vegan Street Fair as the largest vegan event in the world (based on attendees). Check out the Happy Cow website and the app to find a vegan-friendly eatery wherever you are in the world! It’s like vegan Yelp!
  • Jessica’s San Diego vegan picks: Anthem Vegan, and Osteria Panevino (ask your server for vegan options)
  • Jessica’s Seattle vegan picks: Snackrilege, Fatsquach, and Plum Bistro.
  • Jessica’s Los Angeles vegan picks: Cena Vegan (barbacoa all the way!), Donut Friend (get the creme brulee donut), Divine Dips, and Charlie’s Brownies (you can’t go wrong with the bronut – any flavor will blow your mind).
  • Jessica’s vegan “gateway” restaurants: Wheel of Life (Irvine), Cena Vegan (LA), Mohawk Bend (LA).
  • Best Brunch; The Wild Chive’s Monte Cristo. Decadence at its finest. #shameless.
  • Best LA sit-down restaurant: Crossroads Kitchen. Order the Seafood Tower (when in season), and Eggs Benedict. The Caesar Salad and the flatbreads are also bomb.
  • Best LA causal restaurant: Veggie Grill. Order the B-Wing Salad, Kale Caesar, or any of the wraps.
  • Contenders in the Best Vegan Chicken & Waffles debate: Souley Vegan (San Francisco), Vibe Kitchen & Juice (Newport Beach), Native Foods (multiple U.S. locations).
  • Don’t miss Super Vegan Sunday on February 4, 2018 (aka the Super Bowl for all you sports fans). Smorgasburg LA will offer a vegan option from every vendor from 10am – 4pm. Get there early before the vendors sell out…and get home in time to watch the game!

10: Maxine’s Heavenly

Just in time for the Christmas cookie season, Episode 10 features Robert Petrarca of Maxine’s Heavenly. For now, they’re a clean vegan cookie company that makes incredible soft-baked morsels of joy – trust me, I’ve tried them. We geek out on cookies, cookie variations, and the proper way to eat a cookie. Plus, Robert and I discuss our struggles with vegan junk food and health promotion, how to get big forearms by hand-scooping cookie dough, and our shared indecisiveness when faced with a restaurant menu. Listen, subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Show Notes:

  • Robert brought all five flavors of Maxine’s Heavenly cookies to the potluck! Pumpkin Pecan Spice, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk, Almond Chocolate Chunk, Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin (my favorite), and Double Chocolate Chunk (Robert’s favorite).
  • You can find their packaged cookies at Erewhon, Follow Your Heart, Bristol Farms, Gelsons, and Lazy Acres, plus various health stores/natural markets in the San Francisco and Pacific Northwest areas.
  • Build Robert’s ultimate cookie creation, the Cookie S’mores Sundae, at home: torch a Dandies marshmallow and sandwich it between two Double Chocolate Chunk cookies. Top with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream (we love NadaMoo!), chocolate fudge sauce, and sprinkles!
  • On the savory side, Robert can’t get enough of the Beyond Meat Beyond Burger.
  • Let’s talk restaurants. Robert praised the brunch at Hugo’s – go for the almond energy pancakes. Feeling fancy? You’ll find Robert at Crossroads Kitchen, hopefully celebrating the expansion and success of Maxine’s Heavenly.
  • Need a bowl for that Cookie S’mores Sundae? Check out Coconut Bowls.  All podcast listeners get 10% their entire purchase with the code THEVEGANPOTLUCK. Browse their unique and sustainable bowls, utensils, and even candles to add flair to your kitchen and promote sustainability.

9: Lesli Lonergan

“One part science. One part flavor. One part love.” That’s the secret to baking, according to Episode 9’s guest, Lesli Lonergan, owner and founder of Two Birds Baking Co. Lesli makes the best cupcakes, and they just happen to be vegan (and often gluten-free)! We geek out on baking, the trials and challenges of running a vegan business, and her appearance on Cupcake Wars. Listen, subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Show Notes:

  • Stock up on your baking essentials at Thrive Market! The Vegan Potluck listeners get a special discount. They have everything you need to make the perfect sweet treats for the holidays, including a variety of flours, sugars, and extracts.
  • Find Lesli’s cupcakes (and sometimes cookies) at Hapa Cupcakes in Fullerton, CA, or say hello in person at the Surf City Nights Farmer’s Market. She’s there (usually) every Tuesday night from 4:30pm – 9pm. Check her Instagram for a teaser on her flavors.
  • If you’re in the L.A. area looking for a decent brunch spot, Mohawk Bend is Lesli’s pick. Its great for everyone, vegans and omnivores alike.
  • Looking for an incredible sit-down meal? Check out Gracias Madre in West Hollywood or Real Food Daily (RDF). You can’t go wrong, but we highly suggest the butternut enchiladas at Gracias Madre and the basic bowls at RDF.
  • To dine and dash or pick up a healthy yet satisfying meal, Native Foods is Lesli’s top pick. I definitely have them in my contacts, and the staff at the Costa Mesa location know me. Twister Wrap. Soul Bowl. BBQ Chick’n Salad. Peanut Butter Parfait. Oatmeal Cream Pie….again, you can’t go wrong.

8: Allison Melody

I’ll admit, the last few episodes have featured rather indulgent topics. Episode 8 brings us back into balance with Allison Melody, co-host of the popular podcast, Food Heals Nation. In addition to her own healing journey through food, Allison has interviewed the best and the brightest in the plant-based health and wellness space. We get a bit personal and discuss how Allison discovered plant-based nutrition through tragic events, losing both of her parents to cancer. She’s a committed health advocate who is dedicated to spreading the plant-based lifestyle, and she has helped countless individuals attain healthier, happier lives through her work. She is a master of stir-frys, lover of pasta, and green juice aficionado. Learn how she balances health with the more indulgent side of life, and don’t forget to subscribe, rate, review and share!

Show Notes:

7: Ridiculous Baking Company

Before I tried one of Adam Leach’s croissants, I had come to terms with the fact that I would never enjoy a truly delicious and authentic croissant again. I thought it was just one of those foods that cannot be veganized. Adam, founder and head baker of Ridiculous Baking Company (RBC), proved me wrong. In Episode 7, Adam and I dive into the wonderfully flaky world of sweet and savory pastry. RBC is known for both its vegan renditions of classic pastries, as well as its mouthwatering and rule-breaking mashups of our favorites. Grab a cup of coffee and listen in! As always, don’t forget to subscribe, rate, review and share!

Show Notes:

  • Adam may be a professional baker, but he turns to Stephen McCarty for his stellar raw cheesecakes when the craving calls. Check out Stephen’s Instagram; his sweets are works of art.
  • For a filling, comforting meal, check out Flore Vegan Cuisine in Silverlake. Adam used to cook there, and its a personal favorite of The Vegan Potluck. Get The Salad and the lemonberry cake. Every. Single. Time.
  • One of Adam’s favorite collaborations was with NadaMoo (vegan) ice cream. Together they created the ice cream cone doughnut. Swoon!
  • On the savory side, Adam loves to collaborate with the Herbivorous Butcher for their vegan meats and Miyoko’s for her stellar vegan cheeses. We’re talking rueben croissants and fully-stuffed pizza croissants! Follow the links to purchase your own; both companies ship nationwide.
  •  When Adam finds time to leave his booth at festivals, he heads for Clean South for their vegan popcorn chicken and BBQ soy curls.
  • Want to try some of the best vegan cheese in LA? Check out Adam’s pick, Blode Kuh in various LA stores and farmer’s markets.
  • On the rare occasion when Adam eats out, he heads to Shojin for a sit down meal. However, for a more casual outing, he noted Organix and Cena Vegan for their nostalgia-inducing burritos and classic Mexican fare.
  • Adam’s final words of wisdom: NEVER dunk a fresh chocolate chip cookie.
  • Adam has the food covered, but you can get so much more at Thrive Market! Stock up on sustainable home products like cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, soaps, and even vitamins and probiotics! The Vegan Potluck listeners get a special discount.

 

6: Charlie’s Brownies

Let’s talk brownies. In Episode Six we’re taking a deep dive into chocolatey indulgence with the Brownie Man himself, Charlie Fyffe. Charlie’s brownie (and blondie) creations are a staple at Southern California vegfests; vegans and non-vegans alike flock to his booth for his warm brownie sundaes with toppings galore – think rich fudgy brownie topped with vegan vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge sauce, nuts, coconut bacon, and a strawberry. He also wows the crowd with his bronuts (brownie donuts) and brownie ice cream sandwiches. What’s even sweeter? All of his brownies and blondies are gluten-free (celiac’s rejoice!). Join the fun as Charlie and I talk about vegfests, social responsibility, and brownie mountains. Click below to listen, and don’t forget to subscribe, rate, review and share!

Show Notes:

  • What Charlie brought to the potluck: his $30 brownie mountain (listen to find out what that entails).
  • What Tanya brought to the potluck: Oh, Ladycakes Cherry Crumb Pie. Best. Pie. Ever.
  • A word on ice cream, because brownies and ice cream are the dessert equivalent to peanut butter and jelly. Charlie’s favorite ice cream (vegan or otherwise) is New York’s Nutty Bunny. Toronto’s Pleasantville Creamery is a close second. When not partnering with the local vegan ice cream shop, Charlie reaches for Coconut Bliss for his stand-out brownie, blondie, and bronut sundaes.
  • Besides brownies, he has a sweet tooth for Yvonne’s vegan cheesecakes and Yoga-urt’s kombucha floats.
  • At SoCal vegan events, Charlie has recently been leaning toward Todo Verde for their vegan ceviche and unique mole. He also gives a shout out to New York-based Chickpea & Olive for their plant-based comfort food (he loves their burgers).
  • Charlie raved about Ted Lai’s homemade vegan breakfast sandwich as the best savory thing he ate recently. Check out Ted’s episode on The Vegan Potluck!
  • Charlie’s restaurant picks: 1). Au Lac. He recommends the off-menu vegan octopus. 2). Suncafe. 3). Mohawk Bend. It’s known for its pizzas, but Charlie gravitates to the vegan chili fries and burgers.
  • Don’t forget about Thrive Market! Stock up on your brownie sundae essentials for less so you can create your own brownie mountain! The Vegan Potluck listeners get a special discount.
  • Build that brownie mountain in a coconut bowl from Coconut Bowls.  All podcast listeners get 10% their entire purchase with the code THEVEGANPOTLUCK. Browse their unique and sustainable bowls, utensils, and even candles to add flair to your kitchen and promote sustainability.

 

5: Ted Lai

Vegan MacGyver, WokWildside, Plant Alchemy…the many names of the Orange County-based home chef, Ted Lai. Obviously, Ted wears quite a few hats. Outwardly, he is a friendly, normal dad with a full-time job, but peel back that layer and you’ll find a vegan culinary enthusiast and entrepreneur. In Episode 5, Ted and I geek out on epic potlucks (he’s known for them), bread-making, what to do with vegan meats & cheese, and how make vegan ice cream in a hotel ice bucket.Click the link below to listen, and don’t forget to subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Show Notes:

  • Coconut Bowls Discount! All podcast listeners get 10% their entire purchase with the code THEVEGANPOTLUCK. If you listened to the episode, you know how awesome these bowls are. Browse their unique and sustainable bowls, utensils, and even candles to add flair to your kitchen and promote sustainability.
  • What Ted brought to the potluck: homemade brunch, complete with kombucha, biscuits, tempeh bacon, Kiave salt, sliced tomatoes, avocado, air-fried potatoes, vegan cheddar sauce, green smoothie,
  • What Tanya brought: A bag of Stache Coffee from the Mariner’s Church farmer’s market in Irvine (Ted insisted he do the cooking – I didn’t protest).
  • Put down that sriracha, Yellowbird Sauce is the new hot condiment. Find it online or at your local Whole Foods.
  • Ted thanks The Sexy Vegan for growing his brand, as well as Pollution Studios & Vegan Outreach for editing and distributing his genius Vegan MacGyver videos.
  • Be on the lookout for another of Ted’s popups at Cocobella Creamery, or just stop by for their phenomenal non-dairy ice cream (both Ted and I love the Blueberry Cheesecake).
  • Ted didn’t go to culinary school, but he is a proud graduate and eager advocate for Rouxbe culinary school, a completely plant-based online cooking certification course.
  • When he isn’t whipping up multi-course meals at home, Ted heads to his favorite local vegan restaurants, Vibe and Seabirds. 
  • Check out Ted’s guest post recipe for Easy Creamy Tomato Soup on Cowgirls and Collard Greens.
  • Don’t miss the FIX Long Beach Half St. Patrick’s Day Fundraiser on September 16th in Lakewood, CA. Ted will be dishing up a completely vegan Irish meal to support this event. Purchase your ticket to help raise funds for FIX’s spay and neuter efforts and reduce the homeless pet population.

4: Rachel Carr

Episode Four features the fabulous Rachel Carr, a costume seamstress turned vegan chef and blogger. Rachel’s uniquely non-linear path to working in whole food, plant-based cuisine has led to a plethora of delicious experiences, from taking over several raw vegan restaurants, managing the kitchen at the wildly popular ByChloe, creating her own recipe blog, and most recently, hosting pop-up dinners in Los Angeles. Tanya and Rachel chat about Rachel’s unexpected career change, going raw, balancing freshness with nut-heavy dishes, the evolution of veganism in the past decade, and cheesecake…lots of cheesecake. Click the link below to listen, and don’t forget to subscribe, rate, review, and share!

 

Chip Trick:

  • Thaw a bag of fire-roasted corn (I used Trader Joe’s brand). Soak up some of the excess liquid with paper towels.
  • Puree corn in a blender.
  • Spread corn puree into a quarter-inch-thin layer on parchment paper and cut/break into desired chip size.
  • Place in dehydrator at 150 degrees for 24 hours.
  • Done! Not sure how long leftovers will last past four days…that’s how addicting these chips are.

Show Notes:

  • Before you whip up one of Rachel’s recipes, stock up at Thrive Market. Basically, if Costco, TOMS, and Vegan Essentials had a three-way, Thrive would be the love child. Its an online market space for thousands of popular health foods and sustainable products. Thrive offers incredible discounts with its membership, and the company practices the “one for one” model in which they donate a membership to a person in need for every membership purchased. Click here to start your free trial AND get a discount on your first order.
  • What Rachel brought to the potluck: Vegan Banana Coconut Cream Pie. Find it on her blog, PlantCraft, at www.rachelcarr.com.
  • What Tanya brought to the potluck: 1 Ingredient Corn Chips AKA Best Chips EVER (see Chip Trick above).
  • Rachel’s favorite raw restaurants (Juliano’s and Rawvolution) have closed. However, she recommends Crossroads Kitchen and Real Food Daily for some classic vegan comfort food. The menu changes seasonally at Crossroads, but you can’t go wrong with their flatbreads/pizzas. At Real Food Daily, Tanya suggests The Mediterranean Salad.
  • Tanya and Rachel agree, Matthew Kenney knows his way around veggies. Check out Plant Food and Wine or any of his other eateries to experience true, delightful innovation in whole plant cuisine.
  • Make one of Rachel’s favorite cheesecake recipes from her blog: Blood Orange Chocolate Cheesecake. 
  • For some great healthy plant-based options, as well as a plethora of wellness services, Rachel recommends The Springs in Los Anegles (bring back the butterscotch pudding!).
  • Shhh! Secret menu item at Au Lac, Los Angeles. Get the “octopus” – don’t worry, its made of mushrooms.
  • Rachel’s pancake hack for mile-high pancakes: bake your batter in a ring mold.
  • Rachel isn’t a fan of the bottled juice trend; she goes to Lassens for a fresh-pressed juice every time.
  • Try Rachel’s food in person at one of her upcoming Feastly pop-ups in Los Angeles! Click here to see all of her themed multi-course meals in July and August. And yes, there will be cheesecake.

3: Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice

Time for some balance. In Episode Three, I sit down with Josh Leibowitz at Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice to obsess over vibrant, healthy, plant-based cuisine. Josh is the founder of this new quick casual eatery in Newport Beach, CA, which focuses on delivering crave-worthy whole food entrees at an affordable price. The menu may be devoid of gluten, soy, refined sugar, and fake meat, but it is certainly not lacking in the flavor department. We’re talking exciting, complex bowls rich in taste and texture, hearty veggie burgers piled high with unique toppings, perfect acai bowls, pick-me-up green juices, and even an un-fried cauliflower “chicken” and waffles with a sweet and spicy mushroom gravy you could eat by the spoonful.

Listen here and subscribe, rate, review and share: 

Show Notes:

  • *Shout out to Thrive Market! Basically, if Costco, TOMS, and Vegan Essentials had a three-way, Thrive would be the love child. Its an online market space for thousands of popular health foods and sustainable products. Thrive offers incredible discounts with its membership, and the company practices the “one for one” model in which they donate a membership to a person in need for every membership purchased.
  • What Josh brought to the potluck: the Vibe Fiesta Bowl.
  • If you’re in Orange County between 8am – 12pm on a Saturday, check out Josh’s favorite farmers market in Irvine.
  • See what all the hype is about at Cruciferous. Like so many others, Josh raved about their General Tso’s Brussels Sprouts.
  • For a sweet treat, visit Vibe and pick up a decadent raw vegan cheesecake by The Source.
  • Josh’s favorite brunch spots: Sage and Seabirds.
  • When he’s not eating at Vibe, he loves Plant Food & Wine in Venice for its ambience, and Organix in Eagle Rock for its indulgent deli of enormous vegan burritos, sandwiches, and burgers.

 

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*No shame. I am a proud affiliate of Thrive Market. 

2: Cena Vegan

In Episode Two, I geek out on vegan tacos and burritos and learn how to correctly pronounce barbacoa with Gary from Cena Vegan. If you listened to Episode One with Sweet Simple Vegan and Conscious Chris, you know that Cena is the vendor of choice at all the SoCal vegfests…people wait over an hour just for a simple street taco. I sat down with Gary to discover what makes Cena’s products so addictive. Join the potluck and try not to drool as we discuss Cena’s plant-based Latin American meats, the best vegan Thai food, and how to maintain one’s culture by embracing vegan versions of traditional staples.

Listen here and subscribe, rate, review and share:

Tanya’s Tip for salvaging baked goods:

  • If you end up with a bad batch of brownies or cake (dry, weird texture/flavor), crumble them in a large bowl and combine with a few splashes of non-dairy milk and a few scoops of nut/seed butter. The batter should be moist enough to form a ball.
  • Line a baking sheet or cutting board with parchment paper or plastic wrap.
  • Melt 1/3 cup chocolate chips with a teaspoon or two of coconut oil. It should be thin.
  • Roll the brownie batter into balls, about an inch around. Dip each ball into the melted chocolate to coat. Place on baking sheet. Option to add toppings such as crushed nuts, coconut shreds, cocoa powder, sea salt, etc.
  • Place balls in the fridge so the chocolate sets.
  • Boom! You have brownie bombs. Another perk is that they last longer than your brownie or cake would. Typically, baked goods only remain at their peak for a few days, but these last in the fridge for at least five days (perhaps longer; I just haven’t tested it).

Show Notes:

  • What Tanya brought to the potluck: Brownie Bombs. See Tanya’s Tip above.
  • What Gary brought to the potluck: Cena’s authentic Latin American vegan meats.
  • When Gary isn’t creating innovative dishes with Cena’s products, you can find him at his favorite local spot, My Vegan. Order the Vegan Beef Jerky…and pretty much everything else on the menu. According to Gary, you can’t go wrong.
  • Check out two of Gary’s favorite vegfest vendors, Charlie’s Brownies and Yoga-urt 
  • Need vegan date night plans in the LA area? Make your reservations at Crossroads Kitchen, Gary’s favorite sit-down restaurant.
  • Say hi to Gary and the Cena team at the OC Pride Festival on 4th Street in Santa Ana on Saturday, June 24th, 2017! Missed it? Follow them on Instagram to see where they’ll be next, or visit the cart in front of Block Party on York Blvd. in Highland Park on select Taco Tuesdays and Fiesta Fridays (check Cena’s calendar to confirm).

 

1: Sweet Simple Vegan & Conscious Chris

For the inaugural episode of The Vegan Potluck, I met up with Jasmine Briones (Sweet Simple Vegan) and Conscious Chris at Swork in Echo Park. Although we covered a myriad of topics, savory waffles, pizza, and veganized Filipino food were a reoccurring theme for this plant-based power couple. Listen to learn more about Chris’s savory waffle addiction, where to find the best vegan brunch, and how these two find balance between health and indulgence.

Check it out here: 

Show Notes: