Melting Pot: Face Plant

There are many reasons why people choose not to eat meat – from love of animals to health and environmental issues. Whilst some people fully embrace a different way of eating, others choose to eat meat substitutes which emulate meat products, such as plant-based burgers and fishless fillets. With this in mind, we’ve asked several chefs to share their inventive ideas and recipe suggestions for plant-based versions of traditional meat dishes.

GABRIEL GONZALEZ founder of Venezuelan restaurant Sabroso in Westfield London It’s important to us that we make sure vegans are well catered for so we have two core vegans offerings with the opportunity to customise each dish. The first is Perico Vegano Arepa; a crispy corn bread stuffed with scrambled tofu and an onion and tomato sofrito. It’s based on a traditional Venezuelan breakfast dish, usually made with scrambled eggs, but we’ve replaced the egg with scrambled tofu so that it has a similar look and texture. We’ve had such a positive response to it so far! We also offer an El Vegano Ceviche Bowl, replacing the traditional fish ceviche with cubes of roasted aubergine. This works beautifully with our homemade ponzu and yuzu sauce and is really flavourful. At Sabroso we serve this with quinoa, mixed salad, sliced avocado, crispy shallots, sweet corn, soya beans and a chévere sauce which is absolutely delicious.

CHEF DAY RADLEY founder and director of the Vegan Chef School in London One of my friends wanted a veggie burger that ‘bit back’ so I created a recipe for a ‘meaty’ burger that stays solid when cooked. The problem with a lot of veggie burgers is they are so soft in texture that they quite often squish out of the side of the bun when you bite into them and they are hard to fry and flip in a pan. I developed a recipe that holds its shape, even on the barbecue, and has the feel of meat. I use onions, garlic and chestnut mushrooms, blended together as a base. I then add yeast extract and stock powder to give a deep meaty flavour then mix in porridge oats and gram flour, which solidifies it and makes it more firm. They’re great for batch cooking and freezing for when you need them, and I like to griddle them so you get lines across them. For the full recipe, visit https://veganchefday.com/recipes/bbq-proof-burger-gluten-freeand-stuffed-with-

SEAN MELVILLE executive head chef, Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa The growing demand for vegetarian and vegan dishes has given our team a fantastic opportunity to experiment with exciting new flavours and recipes. We recently ran a special vegan menu, celebrating the diversity and deliciousness of vegan food, and a particular highlight for me was the scrambled tofu starter with garlic mushrooms, avocado and coriander purée, and a sourdough crostini. Tofu is incredibly versatile, allowing fantastic flavours to be created. Our ‘Bedford Lodge Burger’ is a plant-based burger, made using burger beetroot, lentils, quinoa and mushrooms. Served with sautéed onions and delicious hand cut chips, guests experience all the delights of a traditional burger, whilst reducing their meat intake.

SARAH LESSER -MOOR Lion brand manager at AAK Foodservice Meat-free mince is simple to make, not to mention healthy, lean and protein rich. Firm, green lentils and minced chestnut mushrooms make a delicious alternative to beef – simply cook with onions, garlic and tomatoes until thick and reduced. Then, depending on your dish, stir in Lion Piri Piri Hot Sauce for a chilli, Maple & Bourbon BBQ Sauce for a burrito filling, or Middle Eastern Hot Sauce for a warm and spicy vegan alternative to a minced lamb tagine. Add crushed beans or chickpeas for extra texture and protein, and serve with crisp, cool coleslaw made with Premium Vegan Mayo.

CHEF DEREK SARNO the creator of Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen range Further opportunities in developing and offering more plant-based/vegan options on catering and restaurant menus are in demand. Coming at it from a chef’s point of view, creating something vegan for a meat eater is the best approach. One of my favourites is the pulled King Oyster mushrooms, the technique and ways to use the mushrooms once shredded and cooked can be applied to any style dish that would normally require chicken, beef or pork, such as sandwiches.

FREDERICA FOSTER co-director of Turnips, Borough Market We’ve specialised in wild and unusual mushrooms for over 20 years but in the last few years we’ve seen a significant increase in mushroom sales. In part this is due to people seeking out ‘meaty’ and strong flavoured vegetables to replace meat in their diet. Think beyond bland button mushrooms to Beefsteak, Puffballs and Chicken of the Woods, which have a firm texture and flavour. Mushrooms, of course, are also popular for brunch – replacing the traditional bacon and black pudding.

KATY BESKOW author of Five Ingredient Vegan All the flavour and texture of fish cakes – but completely vegan! My no-fish cakes are golden and crisp on the outside, whilst being fluffy and fragrant inside. The secret? Canned jackfruit. Jackfruit is a fruit grown in South Asia and has a ‘meaty’ texture and a neutral flavour making it versatile and easy to use. Serve with wedges of lemon for squeezing, and a little unsweetened soya yogurt, sprinkled with fresh dill, for familiar flavours that your customers will love.