We Learn the Secrets of Professional Vegan Cooking

Last week, Natural Gourmet Institute schooled us on vegan cooking technique while sharing three recipes for us home cooks.

Last week, at the most recent installation of our “How To” event series collaboration with the Brooklyn Brewery, a packed house learned how to take vegan cooking to the next level.

The evening’s session was led by chef-instructor Barbara Rich of the National Gourmet Institute.

The Institute—which for nearly 40 years has been teaching how to cook for flavor, health and sustainability—offers regular classes with subjects ranging from a “Vegan Baking Boot Camp” to a hands-on tutorial on making your own tofu.

The audience sipped beer and took notes while chef Barbara demonstrated techniques for creating substitutes that offer the similar tastes and textures we crave from non-vegan dishes, but without harming any animals in the process.

With her team of students assembling and plating dishes, chef Barbara showed the audience how to use items like almond pulp, nori sheets and shiitake mushrooms to create strong umami flavors simulating bacon and Parmesan. Using a trusty, borrowed Vitamix blender, chef Barbara whipped up a savory Caesar dressing without anchovies and a cream sauce for a vegan pasta carbonara. She even made a whipped cream topping for her chocolate dessert using cashews and maple syrup.

Between demonstrations, guests lined up to try each of the three dishes and talk with chef Barbara and team and to try out some of their professional tools. See highlights from the event below, and get the recipes for all of the dishes here.

Want to join us at our next Brooklyn Brewery event? On March 2, we’re hosting a panel discussion on how food and drink makers can get their products on store shelves. Read more and get your ticket—only $10!—here.

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Chef Barbara Rich introduces professional techniques and ingredients to the crowd at the Brooklyn Brewery.

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Chef Barbara uses nori flakes to add a salty, savory umami flavor to a dish.

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Vegan Caesar salad

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During the break, attendees got to try out the vegan Caesar salad.

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Vegan pasta carbonara topped with shiitake bacon.

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Baked almond meal and miso are transformed into a Parmesan substitute, to be crumbled onto the vegan pasta carbonara.

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Guests got to try out some of the tools used by the team at the National Gourmet Institute when prepping vegetables.

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Piping whipped cashew cream onto the chocolate-coconut pudding.

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Chocolate-coconut Pudding, topped with cashew whipped cream and cacao nibs.

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Clay Williams

Clay Williams is a photographer and blogger based in Brooklyn. He has shot assignments for the New York TimesFood RepublicGothamist and the Edible Communities titles, among other publications. Follow him as @UltraClay on Instagram and Twitter.