Veggie Cuisine At The Showroom – Jon Tite Speaks!
We sat down and had a chat with Jon Tite, the Showroom's Sous Chef and organiser of the Vegetarian Tasting Night this January. He talks us through the menu, being a vegetarian chef and the fine art of vegetarian movie puns…
Hi Jon! The upcoming Vegetarian Tasting Night is all about experiencing incredible meat-free food. Has vegetarianism ever interfered with your job?
I’ve been a chef for 10 years and a veggie all my life. Aside from the usual workplace banter I’ve never had any problems with the preparation or cooking of meat. I worked out early on that to reach the level I wanted I had to have a full knowledge of kitchen practice. Also I could probably count the number of high-end vegetarian restaurants on one hand, so to work at that level I would have had to move on or wait until a situation presented itself so I could do it myself.
We love the themes for the menu. How’d you come up with them?
Like most things it came from bouncing ideas around the kitchen on a quiet afternoon. This led to looking at how a tasting menu would usually be laid out, e.g. starter, fish, poultry, red meat followed by dessert. From that point I removed the meaty elements and looked at the types of vegetables that are in season during January. I realised I needed something to tie the whole thing together and after looking at what was in season, the headings for each course were quite obvious. Rather than a disjointed menu of good dishes I could create a menu showcasing the best of each theme.
What were the biggest challenges in keeping the menu veggie?
I think one of the biggest challenges wasn’t in keeping the menu veggie, it was rather what shall I leave out! All the dishes are made using veg that is at the peak of its season and even though it’s mid winter the available choice was amazing. I’m hoping that even a die hard carnivore wouldn’t notice the lack of meat.
Veggie Film Puns plz! You may find James Bond 007 in ‘Skyfelafel’ difficult to beat.
We had some fun with this, one my favourites came from celluloid screams “Texas coleslaw massacre”. “silence of the yams” had us in stitches too.
Any good veggie cookery tips for those of us looking to improve our diets in 2013?
I think my tips would be relevant for anyone trying to improve their diet; Keep things simple and fresh, do some research and most of all don’t be afraid of getting things wrong. Some of the best creations have come from what at first looks like a failure! A good starting point for inspiration would be Herbivoracious website.
Leek and Savoy Cabbage Boudin
300g Crumbly cheese – Lancashire or Wensleydale
1 leek, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp English mustard
1 tbsp milk
1 small handful of parsley, chives and oregano finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Savoy cabbage leaves
1. In a pan on a low heat with a splash of oil sweat off the leeks, onion and cabbage until the onions are translucent, taking care not to let them stick or burn. Remove from heat and leave to cool until you can handle them.
2. In a large bowl grate the cheese and add the breadcrumbs, mustard, herbs and seasoning and the leek and onion mix.
3. Lightly beat the eggs and milk and add to the dry mix.
4. Time to get your hands dirty, thoroughly combine all the ingredients and leave in the fridge for an hour.
5. Put a large pan of water on to boil
6. To shape the Boudin: Spoon the mixture along the centre of a sheet of cling film. Roll the cling film with the mixture inside, into a sausage shape about an inch in diameter. Twist the ends of the cling film tightly until they are sealed. Repeat until all mixture is shaped into sausages.
7. Turn the heat down on the water until it is gently simmering and place your well sealed sausage in. They will take about 15 mins to poach and will be floating when done. When cooked remove from the water and leave to cool and then refrigerate.
8. When ready to serve slice the sausage into your required size and then pan fry in a little olive oil until golden.
Serving suggestions: with roast root veg and veggie gravy, with mash, as a replacement for the meat on a Sunday roast or simply in a buttie with a spreading of wholegrain mustard.
The Vegetarian Tasting Evening will be taking place at The Showroom on 19th and 26th January at 7pm, and you can get a ticket here for £25 and £20 (Showroom Member). The first evening has already sold out so don't dordle getting yourself a place for the 26th!