|The song Caryn Hartglass talks about with Mark Reinfeld at the end of this program is Phidyle by Henri Duparc. It can be heard below.
Part II: Mark Reinfeld
Mark Reinfeld is the winner of Vegan.com’s Recipe of the Year Award for 2011 and has over 20 years experience preparing creative vegan and raw food cuisine. Mark was the Executive Chef for the North American Vegetarian Society’s 2012 Summerfest, one of the largest vegetarian conferences in the world. He is described by VegCooking.com as being “poised on the leading edge of contemporary vegan cooking”. He is the founding chef of the Blossoming Lotus Restaurant, winner of Honolulu Advertiser’s ‘Ilima Award for “Best Restaurant on Kaua’i”. Mark is also the recipient of a Platinum Carrot Award for living foods – a national award given by the Aspen Center of Integral Health to America’s top “innovative and trailblazing healthy chefs.
Mark received his initial culinary training from his grandfather Ben Bimstein, a renowned chef and ice carver in New York City. He developed his love for World culture and cuisine during travel journeys through Europe , Asia and the Middle East . In 1997, Mark formed the Blossoming Lotus Personal Chef Service in Malibu , California. To further his knowledge of the healing properties of food, he received a Masters Degree in Holistic Nutrition.
His first cookbook, Vegan World Fusion Cuisine, coauthored with Bo Rinaldi and with a foreword by Dr. Jane Goodall, has won several national awards, including “Cookbook of the Year’, ‘Best New Cookbook’, ‘Best Book by a Small Press’ and a Gourmand Award for ‘Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the USA ’. In addition Mark coauthored The Taste Of The East, The 30-Minute Vegan and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw.
He currently offers online vegan cooking lessons at CookingHealthyLessons.com as well as vegan cooking and raw food preparation consulting, cookbooks, recipe development, cooking classes, workshops, chef training, intensives and retreats in both North America and Europe. If you would like to learn more about Vegan Fusion Cuisine and Mark Reinfeld please visit veganfusion.com.
LISTEN to an earlier interview on July 21, 2010 with Mark Reinfeld on IT’S ALL ABOUT FOOD.
Hello there. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food on October 9th, 2012. How are you today? I’m doing pretty well. It’s that autumn thing going on here in New York and it’s beautiful. It’s a little wet but we like it. I wanted to mention again that it’s time for the Real Appeal. Responsible Eating and Living, the nonprofit that I founded just a little more than a year ago, is having its fundraising month where we ask all of our supporters to help us out a little bit so that we can keep doing what we’re doing. We’ve got lots of great videos, food shows, travel shows, all kinds of recipes. We keep adding new recipes almost daily. Lots of wonderful information up there: responsibleeatingandliving.com. Please visit and visit often. OK. Do you know that according to LA Weekly in an article that just came out it’s calling 2012 the year of vegan cookbooks? And we just heard recently that vegan is mainstream in Los Angeles. This is all really, really good news. And the good news is the food is incredible and it’s just getting more and more incredible because we have great people coming up with great recipes, restaurants, cookbooks, etc. And now I’m going to be talking with Mark Reinfeld who is the winner of vegan.com’s Recipe of the Year award for 2011. He is the celebrated chef of The Blossoming Lotus restaurant and is the award-winning author of Vegan Fusion: World Cuisine and the co-author of The 30-Minute Vegan and The 30-Minute Vegan: Taste of the East.
Caryn Hartglass: Welcome to It’s All About Food, Mark.
Mark Reinfeld: Hey Caryn. Thank you so much for having me here.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. And thank you for writing your latest cookbook, Taste of Europe.
Mark Reinfeld: Well, it was a joy to write it so thanks for picking it up.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t know about everyone but I have my romance with Europe. I lived in the South of France for four years. I’ve traveled all over and I love it there.
Mark Reinfeld: Yeah. That theme really strikes a chord with most of us here in America to go back to the old country.
Caryn Hartglass: And it always disturbs me a little bit when our American culture kind of gets in a little too much over there because I really love the way some of the countries live to some extent: the architecture in many places is beautiful, the way they take their time, that whole slow food movement thing, making food beautiful, really caring about quality ingredients. I don’t want to lose that.
Mark Reinfeld: It’s a very special place and it’s really good to experience it so that when you come back here you can bring a little bit of it back into your everyday life.
Caryn Hartglass: The great thing is that it can all be vegan.
Mark Reinfeld: Amen. It’s surprising that now, like you mentioned the year of the vegan cookbooks, is just incredible how easy it is to pretty much create the full array of world cuisine in a world-class way that’s using all plant-based products.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m just thinking of this right now but it’s sort of coming around full circle where when people were starting eating vegetarian we looked towards ethnic foods because there were a lot of other countries that ate primarily plant-based although they would add small amounts of meat or fish but the food wasn’t incredibly interesting. Now we’ve kind of come all the way around and we’re going back to all of those international cuisines outside of the United States and finding out how to do their best dishes vegan.
Mark Reinfeld: Yeah. I fully agree that if you do look at most indigenous cultures that essentially a majority of the diets were plant-based and the animal products were more as a condiment. We go a step further and show how the full spectrum of cuisine can be created with plant-base. I love to use a lot of the ingredients that are local to the different countries and all of the fresh herbs and vegetables that most of us are familiar with and just combine them in a way to recreate these European classic dishes.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to talk about the challenge of promoting the vegan diet and promoting vegan food. Specifically I think it’s not just about presenting beautiful dishes and making varied dishes and making them taste good but people that are coming to this diet are coming to it more for…I want to say not just for tasty food. They’re coming to it because they want to be healthy; they want to feel good. Some people have allergies. There are all of these different issues. It seems more of the cookbooks that I’m reading are taking more of these things into consideration. In some way…I don’t want to say apologetically, it’s just there are so many more parameters to keep in mind, not just taking out animal food. Because the people that are attracted to these kinds of cookbooks are far more savvy about what they want in their food.
Mark Reinfeld: I feel that it’s really a whole…this is like the “whole being” diet where you’re looking at not only satisfying all of the tastes and flavors that you’re looking for but also having it nourish you on all these additional levels. This kind of food is good for you and it’s also good for the planet. You could…like John was mentioning there’s benefit upon benefit. There’s the flavor that’s amazing and then you start looking at the health benefits, which are incredible, and you see the ripple effect out into the environment and also just creating a more peaceful world here by relying on plants instead of animals for our sustenance.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to delve into the cookbook a little bit. But before I do I want to ask you a few more questions. You did the food for Summerfest this summer?
Mark Reinfeld: I did. That was definitely one of the highlights of my culinary career. It’s one of the largest vegetarian conferences in the world. It’s a five-day event held annually in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It’s three meals a day for over 700 to 800 people a day so it’s definitely a large-scale operation.
Caryn Hartglass: I haven’t been there in a few years but one of the things that I noticed was the people attending were very particular about their food. They knew what they wanted and they wanted a lot of it. These vegans could mow.
Mark Reinfeld: It was definitely a discriminating crowd to say the least. We had a gluten-free station, a raw station, an oil-free station, a pizza station, a hot bar, a few salad bars. It was full on.
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s part of what I was talking about with the challenges because there are people that are looking for more than just food without animal products. Some want oil-free, some want salt-free, some want wheat-free. It’s quite a plate.
Mark Reinfeld: It’s surprisingly easy. That’s the approach I like to take is I see myself as someone that really helps demystify the art of vegan food preparation. More and more people are learning about vegan foods: what they are and what the benefits are. I feel like my role is to demystify the “how to” part through the cookbooks I write and also I offer workshops and trainings around the country to just show people how easy it is to accommodate any dietary need that they might have.
Caryn Hartglass: OK. So now let’s go to Europe.
Mark Reinfeld: Let’s go.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s go. I want to go. You start out talking about Italian food. Then we go to France. We go to Spain and then the United Kingdom and Ireland and Germany and then a bunch of other countries. Everything is really incredible. There’s certainly a lot of Italian food in here because they do make a lot of plant-based options naturally.
Mark Reinfeld: I’ve done quite a bit of travel in Europe that began over 20 years ago and I find that Italy was definitely one of the most vegan-friendly places to be. It was naturally reliant on a lot of fresh vegetables and fresh herbs and the sauces for various pastas that were vegetable-based.
Caryn Hartglass: Here’s a kind of bizarre way that I looked at food around Europe. I used to work as an engineer in the semiconductor industry. I did a lot of traveling and I would visit different customer sites in different countries: in Italy and in France and in Scotland and Germany, if I can remember all of the places I’ve been. But the thing that stood out for me was the cafeteria food in the Italian companies was incredible and it was so above and beyond everywhere else. The tables would have mineral water and olive oil on every table. Then the standard fare that you could always get, and this wasn’t even the main entrée of the day, but they would have shelves of room-temperature grilled vegetables—the antipastos. You could get eggplant or zucchini or just lovely, grilled plain vegetables. They always had several sauces, like a marinara and something else. They always had plain rice and a pasta. It was beautiful and it was real.
Mark Reinfeld: That’s one thing you see as the cultural role that food plays also and the emphasis on, like you mentioned earlier about the slow food movement, just really taking the time to appreciate the gift that food is for us and to really celebrate and honor the ritual of it and really put a lot of mindfulness into it.
Caryn Hartglass: Then I have a specific romance with France because I lived in the South of France for 4 years. I learned so much there. I was a vegan when I lived there and I learned a lot about food, not from eating it but just from looking at it because I didn’t eat much of the things that they served.
Mark Reinfeld: The markets and the gardens. Another emphasis is the daily…if you notice the refrigerators are usually a lot smaller over there because they’re making these daily or every other day trips to the markets or little specialty stores to keep things fresh.
Caryn Hartglass: People just seemed…oh, I don’t know a better word than romantic. It was just so lovely the care. I would have a friend, for example, she would just wrap up a little sachet of lavender for me just as a little gift. And then the tisanes. People would be drinking just a light tea sometimes with thyme. So simple.
Mark Reinfeld: It’s a beautiful thing to experience.
Caryn Hartglass: And you mentioned the cliché of a woman walking with a baguette. You see that all the time still today. People go to the bakery.
Mark Reinfeld: The past definitely comes alive over there. It’s really an amazing experience. It’s still a Western culture. I love world travel. I’ve been traveling for over 20 years and going to other Western nations. There are still a lot of similarities and yet you see these little differences that make a big impact on the quality of the day.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. I just want to underline what you just said because it really is important. These places are like states in the United States. They’re not large and yet they really have very unique, different flavors, styles, and presentations. I just want to keep that. We just have a few more minutes. I want to touch on…I appreciate you wrote in the Spain section…I haven’t been to Spain very often but I always had a terrible time eating. I spent a lot of the ’90s in Europe and I know things have really changed in the last 10 years with vegetarian and vegan food all over Europe. But you talk about “Beware of the Spanish Tortilla.” It’s really an omelet with eggs in it. I didn’t know that.
Mark Reinfeld: Really? Yeah. That’s a subtle or not-so-subtle surprise if you order tortilla and you got an omelet instead of what we’re accustomed to.
Caryn Hartglass: And you have a recipe for Bangers and Mash, which is pretty popular in…I’ve seen it in Scotland actually and I had a vegan version when I was in Edinburgh once.
Mark Reinfeld: Right. That’s with mashed potatoes and I used vegan sausage and this really nice gravy that is served. Again, the effort was to do a full spectrum of recipes that touch on a lot of the classics that people are familiar with as well as introducing new recipes that utilize traditional ingredients.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. There are just so many really yummy things in here that I really am looking forward to trying. You know, nobody can say that vegan food is boring.
Mark Reinfeld: No. Actually, I also give out free recipes on our website for people that want to check that out as well. I have a newsletter where I send out free recipes and more info on the vegan lifestyle and classes and workshops and things like that.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s veganfusion.com?
Mark Reinfeld: Yes. It’s veganfusion.com. In keeping with what John was saying, just really emphasizing the imperative nature of looking at how we grow food and what we’re eating as a way to really affect incredible, positive change on the planet. Again, my role is to show how amazing the food could taste. If people are listening and looking for a virtual tour of Europe, they’ll find it in the recipes of Taste of Europe.
Caryn Hartglass: I definitely agree. You have some praise at the beginning of your cookbook and I just wanted to ask: Is Cher a vegan?
Mark Reinfeld: I am not sure what her current lifestyle choice is but I did a couple of private chef gigs for her in California. A very amazing woman.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow. Good for you.
Mark Reinfeld: That was fun.
Caryn Hartglass: Seems like you’ve been all around. I spent a little time in Germany and I was in Munich but in a very small part of Munich and I was near a small market not where any of the major ones were. I practically lived on cabbages, potatoes, and onions for two months.
Mark Reinfeld: Right. Germany was one of the more challenging countries to come up with recipes though, again, with how vegan analog products have come so far that there are these meat alternatives that are not necessarily health foods but that are helpful when people are transitioning away from animal products. There’s a lot of wurst, like bratwurst. I like to say it’s an aptly named wurst because they’re really not very good for you. The plant-based alternatives are a lot better way to go.
Caryn Hartglass: And the other thing is beer. I love to see that you use beer in some of your recipes. I like cooking sometimes with beer and wine, especially if I want to keep something oil-free.
Mark Reinfeld: Yeah. I enjoyed working with the various beers and wines in this book. One of my former chefs at the Lotus and close friend Patrick Remser did a full section on wine and beer pairing for vegan foods, which is an interesting topic in itself.
Caryn Hartglass: Can you talk a little bit about when you give a training class, what that’s like?
Mark Reinfeld: Sure. I love showing people how easy it is to create these world-class meals. Lately I’ve been doing weekend workshops and 10-day trainings in Hawaii and on the West Coast and I have some events planned on the East Coast and in Europe as well. Basically it’s like whatever your skill or confidence level is I can show you these very simple techniques that are very empowering for people so that they find even after a 10-day training that their skill level and confidence level have really gone to totally new levels. It’s amazing to watch the transformation and people feeling that they can take their health back into their own hands and prepare these life-giving foods for themselves and their families.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m always telling people to find their kitchens.
Mark Reinfeld: Right. That’s a good place to start.
Caryn Hartglass: People don’t listen very often.
Mark Reinfeld: You see the role that food plays, especially when you travel, and that it really is one of the main things that unites humanity: food and the ritual. My feeling is that if we could bring consciousness and awareness into how we partake of that fundamental human activity that it will have this ripple effect into all other aspects of our lives.
Caryn Hartglass: I like that. I like that very much. So what’s next for you? Are you going to another continent?
Mark Reinfeld: I actually have an event planned in Belize in December. I do these vegan culinary tours where I go with small groups of people and we experience the local culture and prepare foods together. Belize is coming up in December and then I’ll be returning to Europe next summer. Also I’m working on the next 30-Minute Vegan book, which will be 30-Minute Vegan Soups and Stews, which will have over 125 recipes from around the world of different soups and stews and condiments that go with them.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s just talk about the 30-minute vegan concept for just 30 seconds. I know people have very busy lives and they are kind of daunted by cooking because they think it takes a long time so there are a number of cookbooks today that want to stress that it’s quick to make most of these meals. To some extent when you have a skill you can put a meal together relatively quickly.
Mark Reinfeld: That was the guiding principle for coming up with this: the idea of the 30-minute vegan. Most people can wrap their mind around spending a half hour getting a meal together so I’ve just designed the recipes in a way that really goes back to these simple, basic techniques that create a lot of flavor but don’t take too much time in the kitchen. Virtually all of the recipes you can create these gourmet-quality meals in less than 30 minutes.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s good. But people still have to get their feet wet. There’s a certain amount of organization involved; you talk a little bit about it in your book. People have to be thinking ahead because you can’t just open a book and get started. Most people, if they are new to this, they don’t have any of the right ingredients in their refrigerator or in their cupboards and they may not have the right tools. In everything in life it takes organization and planning.
Mark Reinfeld: Baby steps. I think the first thing is just a willingness and an awareness that it’s a direction you want to go in your life. If I had to sum it up I would say it’s a lot simpler than people think it is.
Caryn Hartglass: Mark, I want to thank you. We’re at the end of the program. I want to thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food. I said I was living in the South of France earlier and one of the things that I loved was the fields where all of the herbs would just grow naturally and you could walk through them and the sun would bake on them and the fragrance was just intoxicating. So I thought just as a nice way to end the show…I’ve done quite a bit of singing and I have a piece that is going to play from a French composer, Duparc, called Phidyle and it talks about those things, about the clover and the thyme and the sunlight and the fragrance around the paths so that’s how we’re going to end the show today. Thanks for joining me Mark Reinfeld. Taste of Europe. Go to veganfusion.com. I’m Caryn Hartglass. Thanks for listening.
Transcribed by Jennie Steinhagen, 3/25/2013