The Making of the Blue Plate Special

by adamveggiegalaxy on April 11, 2014

Buffalo Tofu Nuggets

Buffalo Tofu Nuggets, S’mores Pancakes, Corn Dogs, Vegan Ceviche, House-made Seitan Meatball Sub, Fried Cauliflower Po-Boy…ah, the Blue Plate Special!  A new one starts every Wednesday and gets announced on all the Veggie Galaxy social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and often google+).  The Blue Plate Special runs for a week and is available on our Dinner menu, starting at 5:00 p.m.

We thought it would be fun to share a peek behind the scenes at how we come up with these fun and short-lived dishes and introduce you to the Veggie Galaxy Kitchen staff members who create and prepare them for you.

Chef Christian has been with Veggie Galaxy since we opened, starting out as a prep cook.  He moved up to sauté cook and then ran the Kitchen for awhile.  Christian was trained at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts in New York City and has been vegetarian, vegan and omnivore at various times.  He says that he enjoys “Food” currently. We sat down with Christian recently and talked about his background and Veggie Galaxy’s Blue Plate Special.

Chef Christian

VG: Do you go out to eat at diners yourself?

Christian: Yes; some of my favorites are “The Tilt’n Diner” in Tilton, NH, “Uncommon Grounds” in Watertown, MA and “The Breakfast Club” in Lower Allston.

VG: What do you like to get to eat at a diner?

Christian: I check the specials first.  I love eggs, so often I’ll have Benedicts or poached eggs.

VG: When thinking up a Blue Plate Special at Veggie Galaxy, what influences you and what do you take into consideration?

Christian: I go out to eat a lot, so sometimes I try to replicate something that I’ve tried and enjoyed.  I want to emulate the flavors to share them with VG customers who can’t usually have them…like vegans and gluten-free folks.  I’m all about big flavor.

VG: Do you have a favorite ingredient or technique to work with on the Blue Plates you’ve created?

Christian: Scallions, slaws.  Things that are vinegar or mayo-based.

VG: What’s been your favorite Blue Plate Special here at Veggie Galaxy?

Christian: The first one; before we even called it a “Blue Plate Special”: Crispy Polenta with Zucchini & Squash Slaw and Red Pepper Relish.  Also Portobello Tips,  and the Shiitake Arancini.

VG: What’s been the best-selling Blue Plate Special at Veggie Galaxy?

Christian: I think the Portobello Tips.  We went through about 6 cases of portobellos a day!

"Teriyaki Eggplant and Portobello Steak Tips" Blue Plate special

VG: Will VG ever re-run former Blue Plate Specials? Everyone wants their favorite to come back.

Christian: Some may become part of the regular dinner menu at some point.  If we bring a Special back we like to do something a little different with it and make it a new experience for customers.  We try to showcase our experience and find new ways to make people happy.

VG: You’ve handed off the weekly Blue Plate Special responsibility to “Sweet Brian”. Why – - and why to Sweet Brian?

Christian: Sweet Brian has a similar love of food – - we are both “consumers”. My Blue Plates were more experimental, while his are more “fan favorites” and things that he really enjoys himself.

"S'mores Pancakes", another of Christian's Blue Plate specials

"Fried Calamity Vegan Calamari", a Blue Plate special by Christian

VG: Will we get to see/taste any more of your creations here at Veggie Galaxy?

Christian: Sure.  I have a new role now; more on developing new directions and working on some of the menu staples.  I’m looking at recipes and updating things, making sure that every product and every meal here is consistently good.

***Then we talked to “Sweet Brian”.  He was busy making the salsa for this week’s Blue Plate Special…a vegan Breakfast Burrito.***

VG:  How many Blue Plate Specials do you have under your belt now – - that you’ve created?

Brian: Six or seven so far, and also some of the Seitan Cutlet specials.

VG: How did you get into cooking?  We understand that you’re self-taught.

Brian: I worked at a pizza place before Veggie Galaxy and I just like cooking.

VG:  How is cooking here different from cooking for yourself at home?

Brian: Here I have to think outside the box.  I can’t make the same thing five times a week!  It keeps my brain active.

VG: How do you get ideas for the Blue Plate Specials that you’ve come up with?

Brian: I watch people eat and try to think how I could make dishes vegan.  I also get ideas from things I like eating myself at home – - I try to make things that people will enjoy.

The "Punk Scramble", one of Sweet Brian's first Blue Plate specials

VG: Looks like that’s happening! Would you ever re-do previous Blue Plate Specials?

Brian: I would love to!

"Sweet Brian"

So; two different chefs with different approaches and different plans for the Blue Plate Special.  Also good to know – - they are great friends and will probably still work collaboratively on the Specials once in a while, with Christian there to offer advice when asked for, from his professional training.  Hope you’ll try some of our Blue Plates and let us know what your favorites are!

 

Veggie Galaxy Welcomes a New Pastry Chef

by adamveggiegalaxy on March 13, 2014

Veggie Galaxy’s original Pastry Chef, Lesli Turock, has recently moved on to new opportunities.  We miss her and we all wish her well in her next adventure.

In early February our Vegan Bakery welcomed a new Pastry Chef, Jess Lum.

Veggie Galaxy's new Pastry Chef, Jess

Jess is close to wrapping up her work-day when I arrive late on a recent morning to ask her some questions and take some photos for our Veggie Galaxy blog.  She’s been here since about 5:30 a.m.  It smells amazing in the back part of the kitchen where the bakery production takes place – - I think they’ve been baking chocolate cakes this morning.

Jess lets me fire questions at her as she keeps moving; frosting cakes, stirring a pot of some melting chocolate on the stove, keeping an eye on her bakers.

Lining up the top layer of a triple-layer cake

VG blog:  Welcome to Veggie Galaxy!  But really, “welcome back”, right? (Jess was a Server here awhile back.)

JESS: Round two!

VG blog:  How does it feel to be returning as the Pastry Chef?

JESS: It’s great being back.  Veggie Galaxy always felt like a family, no matter what part of it I’m working in.  Good crew, good food.

VG blog:   Can you tell us about your transition from Server to Pastry Chef? You were a baker at peacefood cafe (a “vegan kitchen and bakery”, http://www.peacefoodcafe.com/) in NYC in between, right?

JESS: I moved to NYC and got a job baking at peacefood cafe quickly.  I used to bake at home as a kid, and doing it in a restaurant kitchen made me fall in love with it.  I was there for about a year and a half.  Back when I was a Server at Veggie Galaxy I used to get a lot of feedback about our desserts, so that helped too.

Marking the cake for future perfect slices

VG blog:  Where did your interest in baking come from?  Do you have a sweet tooth yourself?

JESS: I used to bake at home, mostly cookies…my Mom taught me how.  I got giant chocolate chip cookies for my birthday cakes (made by Mom)!  I started baking again after college as a stress reliever.

I do like desserts, but not TOO sweet.  I like a mix of savory and sweet.

VG blog:  Are you vegetarian or vegan yourself?

JESS: Vegan!  I’ve been vegan for 3-4 years and was vegetarian before that.  Mostly for ethical reasons, but also there just weren’t enough reasons NOT to do it.

VG blog: What are the challenges and the opportunities in vegan baking, as you see them?

JESS: Vegan baking means thinking about pastries and processes in a different way.  You have to think outside of the box – - I enjoy that.  New vegan baking techniques are popping up all the time, which is exciting.

Concentration

VG blog:  You’ve already introduced some amazing new Cheesecakes – - the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Chocolate Cheesecake and the Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake have both generated a lot of excitement on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, as well as here in the restaurant.  And you made those great Almond Linzer Heart cookies and special cheesecakes for our BVS Pre-Valentine’s Day dinner.  What’s up next?

JESS: (Choosing her words carefully so as not to give anything away…) I’m looking forward to introducing some things that Boston is missing and people are looking for and no one will be expecting.

VG blog:  Can you tell us anything about possible plans for new Gluten-Free Vegan items?

JESS: I definitely want to do more Gluten-Free options.  Everyone should be able to enjoy our desserts!  I want to do more bakery items that hopefully you can’t tell are gluten-free.

Stirring some melted chocolate for cake decorating

VG blog:  Best way to reach you to order a birthday cake or pastries for a meeting or other special order?

JESS: People can contact me via email at veggiegalaxybakery@gmail.com.

VG blog: What do you like to do when you’re not here baking?

JESS:  When I’m not here baking I like to hang out with friends, cook, eat and sleep.  I’m gonna die in a kitchen! (smiling)

Delicious works of art!

***See more beautiful Veggie Galaxy baked goods and prices for ordering here on our website.***

Happy Holidays!

December 21, 2013

Just can’t believe how quickly we got from Thanksgiving to Christmas week.  Weren’t we just selling pumpkin pies and pumpkin lattes and sweeping leaves back out the door every time it opened?  Since then we’ve had two snowstorms, a staff party, some killer Blue Plate and Seitan Cutlet specials, more media coverage for accepting bitcoin [...]

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THANKSGIVING WEEK HOURS

November 22, 2013

MONDAY, 11/25 – 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – (Front Counter stays open from 3 – 5, for coffee, frappes, baked goods)   TUESDAY, 11/26 – 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – (Front Counter stays open from 3 – 5, for coffee, frappes, [...]

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Vegan Pies for Thanksgiving

November 11, 2013

Thanksgiving is less than 3 weeks away, and we want to let you know that we would be happy to be the bakers of your holiday pies!  All our pies are Vegan, and we’ll have 4 different kinds to choose from. We will have Pecan, Pumpkin, Apple Crumb and Chocolate Cream pies for sale for [...]

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October Overview

November 4, 2013

Some months are busier and more noteworthy than others – – truth. Since October was one of those months, we thought it would be fun to go back and walk through the highlights. October is “Vegetarian Awareness Month“, and it kicked off on October 1st with “World Vegetarian Day“.  We shared this fun article on [...]

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What’s “the Special” at Veggie Galaxy?

October 18, 2013

We have a pretty large menu at Veggie Galaxy to begin with, as you might expect at a diner that serves breakfast all day as well as lunch and dinner.  On top of that there are endless ways to build your own omelet or burger, choosing from our long list of fillings/toppings.  But just to [...]

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Once upon a patio

September 2, 2013

With Labor Day weekend upon us, we thought it would be fun to look back at the trials and tribulations we encountered in setting up our sidewalk patio this summer. It started last summer, when we put up a minimal patio consisting of tables, chairs and some colorful fencing. We loved the look, but the [...]

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PHOTO CONTEST!

July 15, 2013

PHOTO CONTEST! WIN A VEGGIE GALAXY CAKE OR PIE or 4 LARGE VEGGIE PLANET PIZZAS! We’re looking for a fantastic photo for each restaurant that will become the new “cover photo” for Veggie Galaxy’s/Veggie Planet’s Facebook page. The cover photo should express what the restaurant is all about. You can refer to your own experience [...]

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When a Carnivore dates a Vegan

July 9, 2013

July 10, 2013 On June 24, 2013, the website Philly.com published an article by a young man named Matthew Nussbaum.  Matthew is a carnivore, and his article chronicled his experience dating a vegan.  We posted it on our Facebook page and asked if any Veggie Galaxy fans had had a similar experience, and if they [...]

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