On April 11th, for the first time since the inception of Veraisons Restaurant in 1999, we will host a wine pairing dinner, serving 100% Vegan dishes and 100% Vegan wine. The menu, artfully created by Executive Chef Orlando Rodriguez and Sous Chef Hassler, features six vegan courses, each paired with a vegan wine from Glenora and our sister winery Chateau LaFayette Reneau.
Why 100% Vegan you ask…
Our goal at Veraisons has always been to create an excellent experience for our guests. One that’s both memorable and comfortable from start to finish, from the front of the house to the back.
Over the past 15 years our guests needs have changed, therefore we’ve changed. No matter their dietary tendencies, or lifestyle choice, our guests’ enjoyment is our culinary and service teams’ top priority.
To shed some light on this dinner and the ever-changing nature of Veraisons we sat down with Sous Chef Sarah Hassler to learn more:
What makes you so passionate about cooking vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free cuisine?
I know what it’s like to dine out with dietary restrictions. I am allergic to both gluten and dairy, something I discovered only a few years ago. Once I had, dining-out went from a relaxing and fun experience to something that was nerve-wracking and complicated, and sometimes downright scary. How lucky for me to be in a position where I can not only advocate with words, but with the food itself? Orlando and I want every guest in our dining room to feel relaxed and enjoy the experience.
It also has to be said: vegans are passionate about food and I totally connect with that. Quality, sustainability, food-miles, and flavor have always factored in to our menus at Veraisons. We care about where our food comes from, about our farmers, and about the environment that creates it.
Where do you draw inspiration from to create these creative dishes?
To be honest, I’m a total nerd. I read whenever and whatever possible; you never know what might spark an idea or what might tie into another one. Cookbooks, chef biographies, magazines, food blogs; I even subscribe to as many food-related subjects as I can find on social media – I find they are an efficient way of keeping up with our ever-changing industry.
At the core, cooking for vegans is exactly like cooking for everyone else; there needs to be balance in flavor, color, texture, and nutrients….and it needs to taste great.
The creation of the vegan cheese plate must’ve come with quite a bit of trial and error. How intense of a process is it to make cheese with cashews and coconut milk?
It depends on the cheese really. Some cheeses, like the Rarebit, are almost instant, requiring only a soak in hot water and a good blender. Others, like our new Smoked Gouda, need soaking, sprouting, culturing, and smoking time. It is a really fun process though as we are constantly learning how to create new flavors from ingredients we might not have otherwise tried. The end result is something that you cannot buy anywhere else; to those who cannot or do not eat dairy our cheeses are precious.
Are there any styles of cheese that you’d like to tackle next?
I’d love to try to create a bleu; to get that funk in there that would be totally awesome.
What dish are you most excited to share with guests at the upcoming dinner?
Personally, I love the sesame cucumber noodles. As someone who loves Asian cuisine and is allergic to gluten…well, I really miss my noodles. This dish nails it for me – a little sweet, a little spicy, a lot savory, and came be eaten with chopsticks!
Take a look at the menu:
In addition to the wine pairing dinner, Veraisons Restaurant just launched their new spring menus! Check them out here.