Talking about the increasing amount of people who are going vegan is on the verge of becoming boring. It is not, however, boring to talk about how this trend is infiltrating the catering business. Especially so with the official after party for the Oscars, the Governors Ball, offering a vegan-only menu.
Wolfgang Puck, the renowned chef and official caterer for the Governors Ball, shared his menu online, and we have to say, it sounds delicious. It included various hors d’oeuvres and amuse-bouches, showcasing both (what has now become known as) vegan classics and some lesser-seen ingredients.
Austrian-American chef Wolfgang Puck
Puck shared the entire menu with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and you can peruse it in full here. We especially like the sound of the wild mushroom potsticker with black truffle ponzu, the mini taro root taco with miso-glazed aubergine and smoked soy mushrooms, and the opal apple ‘summer roll’ with cucumber, shiso and pomegranate pearl.
We’re also highly intrigued by the heirloom carrot ‘tartare’ with pickled mushroom seeds, horseradish and sunchoke bark (!). Even the vegan favourite, beetroot, has been given an innovative twist: not only has the golden beet been frozen, it’s served with an almond custard, lemon and ice lettuce.
The heirloom carrot tartar. Credit: Audrey Ma for Wolfgang Puck Catering
The puddings sound interesting, too, with highlights such as cashew vanilla tiramisu, Hawaiian superfood spheres and tropical pavlova with macerated jackfruit and dragon fruit. Can we try some, please?
With so many Hollywood stars being vegan, it is perhaps not surprising that the catering for their biggest bash of the year reflects this. But is it not also an indication of how big the demand for vegan food is and how immensely the industry is growing?
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Vegan catering in the UK is definitively growing. In Venues + Events Live 2018’s Canapé Cup, vegan caterer Easy Gourmet were runner-up with their generous canapé (‘Shojin Ryori’). It was a stack of black rice, Japanese panko, avocado, shallots, chili, lime juice, sweetcorn, horseradish, vegan mayo, mustard, courgette, vegan cheese, kuzu and micro herbs. Despite the excessive use of ingredients, they married well and came together to form a canapé that was fresh and zingy, yet filling and moreish.
READ MORE: Which caterers came out on top in the Venues + Events Live Canapé Cup?
Easy Gourmet's Shojin Ryori canapé
When we spoke to catering veteran Michael Rapacioli of Sands Catering, he also had some interesting insight on feeding the vegans. He thinks it ties in with the overall shift towards more healthy, sustainable eating and environmental awareness.
‘As with any change, there are teething problems; in the initial stages, we see prices rising in raw materials, food costs and packaging,’ Mick explains. ‘This, inevitably, leads to an increase in price for the end-user too, which may impact people’s eating habits.’ Mick hopes to see this stabilise in the future so that food in general, not just catering, becomes more sustainable and cost-effective.
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Torchio pasta bowls. Credit: Audrey Ma for Wolfgang Puck Catering
Craig Woodley, corporate sales and events director of Maxwell’s Group Events (representing Tropicana Beach Club and Café de Paris), told us in an interview that the group embraces veganism entirely. ‘We love the vegans and we are ready for them! Our new menu has a huge selection for all dietary requirements, including those with plant-based diets,’ he said.
You can read the whole interview with Craig Woodley here
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So is it time for caterers to take serious action concerning veganism? Should it replace standard menus entirely or just be an option alongside it? Join the debate!