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.



*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: