Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays. We had a different time being in Brazil for the first time in years at this time of the year, but baby boy is having a blast being with his grandparents all the time and he spent the holidays enjoying the summer and swimming a lot. For the first time in years, this is the first travel where the food isn’t being our main focus, so it’s almost weird to us and that’s why I am not writing a lot here. But it doesn’t mean that we are not working for the website. A new project will be announced in January and there’s a lot more to come.
Also, we’re working hard to get better content for the website, including profiles and interviews. And to start 2013 with the right foot, I had the chance to interview Brian Patton, or as you might know him as “The Sexy Vegan“. His videos are incredible, bringing to vegan people around the world easy recipes, filled with a lot of fun. He also released the book with the same name and was kind enough to share with our readers a great recipe to this season. I really hope I an go to L.A. soon to meet him in person and try some of the Vegin’ Out food. Hope you enjoy it!
How and when did you decide to go vegan?
I switched to a vegan diet in September of 2006 as an experimental kick start in hopes of losing weight. I was around 260 pounds and I felt terrible all the time. And since I was the only meat eater working for a vegan company (Vegin’ Out, L.A.), I thought I’d give it a try for a month. I started to feel better and lost a few pounds, so I went another month, and another month. Ten months later, I had lost 60 pounds and felt better than I had in my entire life. But just because I had adopted a vegan diet didn’t mean I was a full-on, level 10 vegan. I had been gradually becoming conscious about the other aspects, like not buying leather belts or wool socks. And let me tell you, my silk underwear collection took a big hit in that first year. Then one day, I instinctively trapped an interloping spider with a cup and a piece of cardboard instead of stomping on it. My roommate walked into the room while I was escorting it outside and said, “Dude what are you doing?” I said, “I don’t know, but I guess I don’t kill spiders anymore either.” My perspective had shifted. In that moment, I saw a being just trying to go about its day, like we all do. I thought, “We, earthlings don’t really know what we are in the grand scheme of things…maybe we’re just a lucky spider that hasn’t gotten stepped on yet.” I finally saw what it meant to “do no harm.” And I think that was the moment when I decided I would be vegan for life. I call it my “spider moment.”
How the idea of making the videos come up and when The Sexy Vegan became a hit on the internet?
At some point in that first year of being vegan, a friend was telling me about YouTube. After he described it to me, I said, “I can do what?” “And I can curse??” So I soon started hatching a plan for what would be my first episode. I really just did it to entertain my friends and family who are all across the country, but the first video got featured on one of YouTube’s pages, and it started getting thousands of views. That’s what prompted me to continue with more episodes. I’m not sure that it really became a “hit”, in that nothing has gone completely viral, but I steadily built a solid following and attracted the attention of a book publisher in early 2010.
You probably had to answer this question many times, but I couldn’t find the answer on line, so why “The Sexy Vegan?”
Ah, when I first hatched the idea of the first episode, I was going to call it “The Smoking Vegan”…I had not completely quit smoking cigarettes at the time, so I thought it would be funny if I were cooking healthy food, then taking smoke breaks. But then I thought that people would be more likely to click on it if it had “sexy” in the title, so I went with that.
You do something that not many chefs and authors are able to do, mix cooking with fun, what I really enjoy! Why did you decide to put them together?
Thanks so much! My thought was to parody a standard cooking show that you’d see on the food network or somewhere. They’re all very vanilla and tame, and I thought I’d do a show with a similar cooking show presentation, but then just say what pops in my head at the time, and talk like people talk in their every day lives…sometimes people say dirty things, bad puns, or swear words…so that’s what I do.
How was the process of putting a vegan cook book together?
The publisher I’m working with (New World Library) really made putting the first book together easy and painless. It was a very positive collaboration, and we understood and embraced each other’s visions, and ended up with a product that we’re very proud of. Any stress that I encountered, was self inflicted in the form of procrastination. Perfecting the recipes and writing the content is the best part, but transcribing the recipes and writing out the instructions is no fun at all. But hey, they’re paying me to write a book, so what am I complaining about?
Many vegan cookbooks today bring complicated recipes, with ingredients that are hard to find sometimes and also expensive. How do you choose the recipes and ingredients that you show in your videos and that we can find at your book?
This is very true. And I absolutely take ingredient availability into consideration when planning recipes. I live in Los Angeles, so I’ve got access to every ingredient I can imagine. Other parts of the country are not so lucky, yet. So, in the rare case when I use specialty ingredient, I make sure that it can be obtained on the internet, or else I don’t use it.
I live in Europe and have many cookbooks from American authors and sometimes I get really frustrated that I can’t find all the ingredients they use in Europe. Do you think your recipes can be easily cooked worldwide?
I’ve gotten plenty of emails from people around the world that are making my recipes. Like I said, I make sure that an ingredient can at least be found on the internet for that reason.
You’re also the executive chef for Vegin’Out in LA, right? What do you offer there and what’s the main differential of your delivery service?
That’s right! Vegin’ Out is a weekly vegan delivery service, serving all of Southern California. We deliver fresh entrees, sides, soups and cookies each week to our client’s homes and offices. It’s extremely affordable for fully-prepared, mostly organic meals, and we change the menu each week to keep up with the seasons. We feed young professionals, new moms, people who just had major surgery, people with health issues, and even more important than regular people, we feed celebrities like Alicia Silverstone, Cobie Smulders, Andy Dick, Sam Simon, and Tiffany.
Do you have a favourite episode of The Sexy Vegan?
That is not easy to choose. I would have to say that my “Filet ‘O Tofu” is definitely in the top three, as is the “Easter Pie” episode and any one of my “Thanksgiving Series”…although I think my finest “work” is not a cooking episode, but my book trailer…even I still chuckle at it, and I’ve seen it 200 times.
Could you share one of your favourite recipes with our readers? Maybe something for the winter season?
¼ lb. oyster mushrooms, chopped (Shitake mushrooms work here too)
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup diced onion
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup diced red potatoes
6 strips tempeh bacon, browned, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine
3-4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup cashews, soaked in hot water for 1 hour, drained
2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon seaweed powder
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a pot to medium and add the onion, carrots, celery, and a pinch of salt. Cook 3-4 minutes then add the mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf. Cook another 3-4 minutes and add the wine. Bring wine to a simmer for 2 minutes then drop in the potatoes, cover it all with the stock, and simmer it for about 10 minutes.
While this is happening, drop the cashews, almond milk, and nutritional yeast into a food processor, and puree until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Now that your potatoes are soft, fish out the bay leaf, and stir in the cashew cream and seaweed powder, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a bowl, and garnish with the browned tempeh bacon pieces.