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.
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!
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.
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.
VG: Looks like that’s happening! Would you ever re-do previous Blue Plate Specials?
Brian: I would love to!
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!