The Faces Making Vegan Cool

I know that many of you out there consider yourself the premier vegan chef this side of the Mississippi. No need to be modest now, I’ve seen you watching the Food Network, chopping celery faster than a Japanese hibachi chef. But the truth is, as good as I’m sure you are, there are people out there that actually do this for a living. They are making a name for themselves and some of them have even taken on  a bit of celebrity status. I decided to find out who these chef’s are and which restaurant they call home.

Let’s face it, if Oprah dons you the title of top vegan chef, there isn’t really any questioning it. Tal Ronnen, Oprah’s own vegan chef has dominated the talk show circuit and has brought vegan cooking to the mainstream, or at least to the stay at home soccer moms watching TV at noon. Ronnen favors French style of cooking and takes meals famous for their concentration on meat and adapts them to make them vegetarian, but just as tasty. Recently, he stopped at Portland’s Veg Fest to showcase his idea that vegan cooking can be tasty. He has worked at restaurants across the country, including Madeleine Bistro in Los Angeles and Candle 79 in New York City.

You don’t necessarily picture Italians as the front runners for vegetarian cooking, but chef Aldo Zilli is looking to change that perspective. After become vegetarian a few years ago to give his eating habits a healthy makeover, Zilli decided to the same for his flagship restaurant, renamed Zilli Green. This London hot spot now serves vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free dishes that are sure to leave you begging for seconds. Zilli takes his inspiration from countries around the world, serving dishes like Thai Curry with Quinoa and Blood Orange Chutney and Pumpkin Ravioli with Butter, Sage, and Nutmeg Sauce. Is your mouth watering yet?

Now on the sweeter side of vegan eating, we have chef Erin McKenna. I mean, the woman makes baked goods that are sold in  Downtown Disney for goodness sakes. What could be sweeter than that? After being diagnosed with allergies to wheat and dairy, McKenna decided that the only way she could continue to enjoy cupcakes was by opening up her own shop with her own recipes. She uses all natural sweeteners and replaces white flour with rice flour. A healthy cupcake? Who knew? In addition to her store in Disney, McKenna also has locations in Los Angeles and New York City.

Have a favorite vegan restaurant or vegan chef from your hometown? Let us know! We are always looking for great options for eating out!

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