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Part I: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, The Ultimate Guide to Eating Healthfully and Living Compassionately
A recognized expert on all aspects of living vegan, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is an award-winning author of seven books, including the bestselling The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, Color Me Vegan, Vegan’s Daily Companion, On Being Vegan, and The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. She is an acclaimed speaker and a multimedia host, beloved for her entertaining and unparalleled cooking shows, her informative videos, and her inspiring podcast, “Food for Thought,” which was voted Favorite Podcast by VegNews magazine readers. Colleen is a regular contributor to National Public Radio and has appeared on The Food Network and PBS.
Part II: Ann Gentry, REAL Food For Everyone
Ann Gentry is a pioneer in the world of vegan cuisine. She is the creator, founder, and operating owner of Real Food Daily, one of the premier organic vegan-food establishments in the Los Angeles area that serves a 100% vegan menu using zero animal by-products and foods grown exclusively with organic farming methods. She is the author of The Real Food Daily Cookbook and lives in Los Angeles with her family.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Hi everybody! How are you doing? I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’re listening to It’s All About Food on a very happy, heart-filled, joy-filled, love-y day: February 10th 2015. And February is heart month—healthy heart month—what do they call it? Heart-healthy? Something about the heart. And we’re going to be focusing on that with all kinds of love-filled information for you, maybe from a different perspective than other people talking about heart month this month, and I think you’ll enjoy it. First I want to update you on what’s going on at Responsible Eating and Living. We just put out our second episode (woohoo!) of REAL Good News in Review featuring ‘The Soy Story.’ We have a lovely, rich, decadent recipe for you for Valentines Day, for your valentine, for yourself. It’s rich and delicious and a treat. It’s our Vegan Hollandaise with No-Eggs Benedict Arnold, and you can see a food show for that. And visit responsibleeatingandliving.com. It’s all up there in the Transition Kitchen Food Show. And that’s all for right now! I want to bring on my first guest, Colleen Patrick Goudreau, a recognized expert on all aspects of living vegan. She’s an award-winning author of seven books, including best-selling The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, Color Me Vegan, Vegan’s Daily Companion, On Being Vegan, and The Thirty Day Vegan Challenge. She’s an acclaimed speaker, a multimedia host, beloved for her entertaining and unparalleled cooking shows, her informative videos, and her inspiring podcast, Food For Thought, which was voted “Favorite Podcast” by VegNews Magazine readers. She’s a regular contributor to National Public Radio and has appeared on the Food Network and PBS, and she’s also appeared here at It’s All About Food. Hi, Colleen!
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Hi Caryn! How are you? Good to talk to you again.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Good, yeah! It’s been a long time! Couple of years, actually!
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Yeah.
CARYN HARTGLASS: And there’s so much to do, and the work continues, doesn’t it?
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Exactly, yup.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Yes, and the information doesn’t change that much. But the first thing I wanted to ask you is how has the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge changed since you originated it in, what, 2011 or something? 2012?
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Right, yeah. So the original book came out in 2011, and the new edition is out. It just came out in January. And there are a lot of differences. The bulk of the content in terms of the guidance that I’m giving to people around the food and the eating and the eating out and the nutrition and the social aspects, the base of that is pretty much the same. Although there have been some new additions, new chapters, and some chapters have gone away. But the recipes are all completely different, and it’s really a new book—it’s completely new recipes, completely new design, completely new photographs—and it’s just stunning. It’s just absolutely beautiful. I love seeing people’s reactions when they see it because I want them to have this really beautiful, joyful experience, and this really is my love letter to them and to what a joyful, abundant vegan life looks like.
CARYN HARTGLASS: And this version, you did it your way. Is that correct? I remember reading something where you published this and you had control over all of the content.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Well, yeah. The first book, the first edition, was published by Random House. And for this edition I got to do everything I wanted. We had done a crowd-funding campaign because people really felt strongly about, I felt strongly about, having this book back out in the world. And the public agreed, and so everyone got together and crowd-funded this book. And so I was really everything for this book: I was the Art Director, I was the Editorial Director, I was the Writer, I was the Photography Art Director. So every little thing that you see and things that you don’t even know are there, those decisions were made and made with intention. And I think it really shows.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Well there are advantages and some disadvantages to that because I’m sure you’re tired.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: I recover quickly, so I am doing well now. But it was intense and the process itself is really enjoyable for me. I really enjoy the creative process. And I worked with some wonderful people—wonderful women who did the design, who did the photography. So that was really enjoyable. But getting it out in the world… The difference between working with a major publisher and publishing independently is their access mostly to bookstores, mostly to distributors, it’s because of the relationship they’ve have for so long. But the response from my community, the response from bookstores in general, and people’s response when they see the book has been really positive. But that’s the big difference: it takes more steps and more time for me to actually get it out to the public, and that’s where I’m really relying on people’s affection for the book and awareness of how important this book is to help me get it out in the world.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Now, you said the recipes are different. So is this just more variety? Because there are a hundred, million, trillion, billion, thousand different ways to make all of the gazillion plant foods that we have out there into tasty, delicious dishes. Or is there a different focus?
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: That’s so true, isn’t it? Well I’m still basing the recipes on food, so that is the same as everyone else’s recipes. But I’m very mindful, honestly. I’m so mindful about the recipes I choose to create for my books. I always have been. Everything I put out there has been put out with intention; what is it that I’m trying to accomplish, and what is it that I want my audience to have? And so with the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge recipes, they are very much: what recipes do I feel would serve them during this transition, during this process, that they’re going to be easy, they’re going to be familiar, they’re going to be delicious. So the breakfast recipes, the lunch recipes, the dinner recipes, they’re really mindful. Have they been done before? I suppose, somewhere. But I don’t really pay attention to that. I’m really there to say, “Okay, what is that people need and what is it that I can provide?” Since I talk so much about the base of our “cravings,” being fat and salt and familiarity and flavor and texture, that’s kind of the base of all of these recipes.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Okay, is mac-and-cheese still in the book?
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Yes! So there’s a pasta alfredo. So a variation of it, which is really fabulous. So it’s more of an alfredo versus a cheddar, I suppose, you might say. But still creamy cheese with noodles. So, yes, you still get the mac-and-cheese.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Very, very important! Before this show started, I was going back and reading some transcriptions from earlier interviews with you. And I want to shout out to my wonderful volunteers who do these fantastic transcriptions. We have over four hundred of them on the website. And it’s really a help for me when I want to review them. I notice you made a comment about your mac-and-cheese and the cheese that you use was inspired from Ann Gentry’s cheese, and I’m talking to her later. I thought that was an interesting little connection there.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: That’s right. And that’s still in the Vegan Table. So that recipe is still in there with a credit to Real Food and to Ann for that recipe. But absolutely. Some of their recipes are so good and that’s why we recreate them. Some of the recipes in Joy of Vegan Baking and The Vegan Table, etc, I went to some of my favorite chefs and said, “Hey, I love what you’re doing here.” And we do that in the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge—one of my favorite recipes is the tiramisu at Peacefood Café in New York City. It’s just such a fabulous place, and really close to my heart. The owners are podcast listeners and there’s just a love fest there. And the pastry chef is just so fantastic, Kristen. And so she knew how much I loved her tiramisu. And so I went to her and said, “I would love to feature your tiramisu, your recipe, in the Thirty Dave Vegan Challenge.” So one day I went in there and I went into the kitchen with her and she showed me how to make the tiramisu and she gave me the recipe. So I love being able to also share the love and spread the love with other advocates that I respect.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Well I like to use a term that I take from music, theme and variation, where there’s a theme and then you make variations on it. And we do that all the time with food.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: For sure.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Let’s just talk about all the great success you’ve been having, because this is a heart-filled love day in our heart month of February. You’ve been getting some really nice attention on some television stations. People are curious about the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge. What’s the reaction, and what do you think they’ve gotten out of it?
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: I’m just so thrilled. A lot of the outreach that takes place when you independently publish or publish with a large publisher is the PR, the media outreach. And so we’ve been doing a ton of media outreach. I have been featuring the Thirty Day on different morning shows, and it’s been so lovely because I went to three of them (two in Sacramento, one in the San Francisco area) and all three of them have invited me back. So the response has been fantastic. Of course the crew and the anchors love the approach of just being positive and showing them that this is not so different from what they’re already eating and familiar with. So I’m just thrilled. And one of them is actually going to be taking the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge in front of her viewers. She’s going to be doing it for thirty days; she’s going to be tweeting about it; having me back to talk about the food, the travel, the eating, all of it. And this is been what I’ve been wanting – is to be able to get out into the public as much as possible and guide them through this journey. The fact that there will be a trusted, beloved personality on television that the audience already loves and knows is just so meaningful because then together we can guide the audience. So it’s been fabulous.
CARYN HARTGLASS: If only we had more trusted sources in the media presenting valuable information that people could actually learn from and follow. We need lots more of that. Because people learn and follow stuff that isn’t always so good.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Yeah, they do. They do. One of the things I’ve been doing is, very specifically, feeding them what it is I think their viewers would appreciate. So that really helps them; it makes their job easier. So after we leave and after I leave again I’ll pitch them when I talk to them. When I was there we talked about what would be the next thing. In Olive they were like, “Great, when can you come back and what can we do?” And I thought, Well, how about we do something with Valentine’s Day; Well, how about we do something with Mardi Gras. So giving them the information to be able to give to their viewers is really helpful so advocates can take note. It’s not just enough to say, “Hey you should be putting some information out there about veganism and advocacy and animals” or whatever. Giving them specific stories that they can then glom on to… that’s what media journalists really, really value.
CARYN HARTGLASS: The proof is in the coconut milk-based pudding, where you eat this food and you feel better! It doesn’t matter what anybody else is telling you. You don’t know how good you can feel until you eat this way.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: That’s right. That’s why my advocacy has always been around food and has always started with food because if it tastes good, they will eat it. Once they see how they feel, they will continue, that’s really key. And that’s what was lovely when I was there and left all of these stations, all of the studios. The crew, on all of them, were coming out from the woodwork, quite literally. All of a sudden they would emerge and they all wanted to try the food. And I had different food for all of these places—all recipes from Thirty Day. It was just beautiful. These really macho guys went in, people who never tried “vegan” (and I say that very intentionally) food. Take coconut bacon; they’d never tried coconut bacon before. And they ate it and they’d go, “Oh! This is reminds me of [bacon]!” It’s the fat, smoke and salt. So giving them that food and sharing with the crew, I can’t wait to go back and share with the crew just to see their reactions.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Now a lot of time the media likes to present things that are trendy. The vegan diet is not trendy. I know I’ve been doing it a long time; I know you’ve been doing it a long time. But then there a lot of different diets that are trendy that people like to glom on to. The newest thing (or actually it’s not that new anymore) is this Paleo thing is out and about. And there are actually some things that we’re in line with about avoiding overly processed foods, white flour foods, and dairy. But then there’s another part of it that’s a little different than what we’re preaching. What’s your reaction and what do you tell people about the Paleo Diet?
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Honestly, I don’t really have a lot to say. I know recently a lot of vegan doctors and vegan nutritionists have come out to debunk exactly the Paleo formula. I did a podcast several years ago called the “Pasturbation Diet,” specifically about the Paleo Diet. And I call it that because we romanticize the past such that we think if there are words like “traditional” or “artisanal” or “Paleolithic,” we immediately conjure something good and something comforting. And so I talk about the fact that we “pasturbate” because we just romanticize things that may or not may have any merit but definitely have an emotional trigger for us. And so I really talked about the fact that it’s a diet like any other diet. It’s no different than Atkins; it’s no different than the South Beach Diet; it’s not different than the Blood Type Diet. They all have their audience and they eventually pass in terms of the strength of their brand. All of them are disconcerting because there is a huge promotion of animal products and that just really breaks my heart. But honestly I have no desire to spend any time talking about the fact that they are not authentic because that just gives them attention to indicate that they’re worth talking about, which would say that they’ve got some credibility. I don’t think they have any credibility as a diet. And you said it when you introduced that question – it’s sometimes a little tricky for us because I don’t believe vegan is a diet. I believe that within this intention and desire to cause as little harm as possible to ourselves and other animals, we live this way so that we can remove ourselves from that suffering and that violence. And within that umbrella called “vegan” you can eat any way you want. You can eat Paleo, you can eat fat-free, oil-free, sugar-free, raw, it doesn’t matter. Those are all diets, and those are all trends. They absolutely are trends in the sense that you can see it by how product manufacturers use these words on their products. There was a time when sugar-free was big, or fat-free was big. Now you see gluten-free; now you see soy-free. So these things are trends—I’m not saying there’s not validity in people who don’t want to eat sugar or they don’t want to eat gluten (or have trouble eating gluten); it’s the fact that it’s a recognized trend in terms of the marketing of these products. When it comes to ‘vegan,’ you can eat any way you want within that, but we do tend to say “vegan diet,” even though I think we’re all agreeing this just means in terms of our consumption, we’re not consuming the flesh or fluids of animals.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Let’s talk about commitment. People learn all this information, and they think, Oh yeah, I want to do this thirty days.’ How do you find people stick with the diet? A number of people try over and over again and have a lot of challenges. I know some of my listeners write to me all the time, “I’m trying,” and they can’t quite get there.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Yeah, it’s exactly why the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge exists. It really is meant to provide the foundation for people to have someone holding their hand and answering those questions. I cannot tell you how many times I say, “Yeah that’s in the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge;” “I’ve covered that in the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge,” because I know; I’ve been doing this long enough where I know what the challenges are. I know where it feels scary. And I think the biggest part that’s scary for people is that it’s different, that it’s a change. I’m there to guide them and to create this foundation for their confidence by the end. I will say, that I think where people struggle the most is with the social aspects. And that’s why I spend a lot of time talking about them. The recipes, the food, the transition, the resources about where to go and what to shop for, those are all available to anybody, anywhere, and any time and they continue to grow and morph and change, and that’s fantastic. Where people need serious guidance is in learning to speak up for themselves, and learning that it’s okay to say, “This is what I need and this is what I care about,” and have those conversations with people. So I do spend a lot of time talking about the social aspects, and I think what I’m most proud of and so excited about when I get emails from people are those who write to me and say, “You’ve given me my voice. You’ve given me the ability to speak up for myself.” That just means so much to me because obviously it infiltrates other aspects of their lives.
CARYN HARTGLASS: This is probably under the subject of “trend,” but I’m not quite sure… There are some people who were vegan and they’re not anymore. And then there were some doctors that insist we need to have fish in our diet. Bill Clinton made headlines as being a vegan (he was never really 100% — none of us are 100%; we live in this world where it’s impossible to avoid some kind of pain and suffering to animals), and now he’s more out about eating fish. How do we handle those issues? Here it is that the word “vegan” is more out in the public; we’re getting more press. I guess the pushback is greater than before.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Sure, well that’s going to happen. That’s a sign that we’re succeeding: when there is more backlash. The sign that we’re succeeding is that people are paying attention and there is backlash. That’s number one—not that that’s backlash (him eating fish). Honestly, the way I think is the most productive and effective way to handle that is to just be really clear, ourselves, about messaging what vegan is. We cannot control what the media is saying about it. We can offer them corrections and we can offer them guidance and we can offer them support in positioning it accurately and joyfully, but we ultimately can’t control what Bill Clinton does, what Bill Clinton says, what his doctor says, what the media say about being vegan. But I think if we’re really clear and we’re really consistent about what it means, I think that’s going to really help the public understand what it means, so that there is just a basic understanding. You even said that we’re not 100% vegan. Well we are 100% vegan if we understand that vegan is about intention, that vegan is about doing the best we can. I am 100% doing the best I can. I am succeeding every day, as a vegan, doing the best I can not to create harm. The rest is just out of our control because we’re just in an imperfect world. So I think if we can just be clear about what the message is, then I think that eventually the media will take hold of it, and other people will understand it better. And they’ll know what we mean when we say “vegan.” They’ll know we’re not saying “fish” when we say “vegan.”
CARYN HARTGLASS: Is there a book out, The Intentional Vegan? Or is that your next book title? I think that’s a good one.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: I’ll put that on the list.
CARYN HARTGLASS: We had another book title, recently, that somebody said: At Least I Thought There’d Be Hummus. Somebody was at an event recently and there was nothing to eat, and she said, “At least I thought there’d be hummus.”
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Right, that’s great. I would settle for peanut butter. If there’s peanut butter anywhere, I am happy.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Of course, that’s real peanut butter made from just peanuts.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Peanuts. I do like a little salt. But no, no oil, no hydrogenated oil, no sugar needed. But I do like a little salt is nice in my peanut butter.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Right. Now, you’re in California. Lots of things going on in California – some nice things, some not-so-nice things. I was reading about some people trying to overturn the foie gras ban. That was unpleasant news. And we’re also seeing the closing of the Millennium Restaurant.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: I like to say the “transition.” It sounds so awful to say closing…
CARYN HARTGLASS: Do you have any Millennium Restaurant incredible memories?
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Oh gosh, so many. Our wedding rehearsal dinner was there twelve years ago with our families. We just have so many wonderful memories there because so many of our life events have been shared there and enjoyed there. I know that they’re going to revive and that they’re going to be back and I know that the oyster mushrooms are going to be back—that’s the main thing. We cannot live without the cornmeal-crusted oyster mushrooms. They’re just so amazing. I’m hopeful. Honestly, even in terms of the foie gras ban, I’m hopeful. I am an optimistic person. I am hopeful that it will remain overturned and this is the worked we’re doing. This is what we have to do. And also, I’m very hopeful that Millennium will have just a new face and new… I cannot find the word I’m looking for… Caryn you know what I mean, a new—
CARYN HARTGLASS:—Yes! A new generation!
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: New generation, new millennium!
CARYN HARTGLASS: Reinvigorated, and I can’t imagine better food, but it just gets better. So it’ll just be better.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: It will be better, and it will be (most likely) in Oakland, which is my city. And so it will bring people to Oakland, which makes me happy. And then hopefully someone will fill that gap in San Francisco. Anyone out there listening who is a chef, who is in investor, who is looking to open a high-end vegan restaurant in San Francisco: it cannot be without one; every major city in the world, practically, has a high-end vegan restaurant. So that, for me, was the real loss because I know Millennium will find its new place, but I really think we need to have a really nice restaurant in San Francisco.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Right! Well what about The Joyful Vegan??
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Not going to happen. Not going to happen. I know my limitations.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Because you’re smart. Running a restaurant is hard and tiring.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: I cannot imagine.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Okay, February; heart month. We know so much about how good plant foods are for the heart. I think there’s no better way than to celebrate heart month than to celebrate with delicious plant foods.
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Indeed! In fact tomorrow, one of the topics of the show that I’m doing tomorrow—I’m doing the Morning Show again in Sacramento—and I’m going to be talking about aphrodisiac foods and foods that enhance the romance. Really, it’s so important for people to understand… Because I’m not into the specific foods, whether it’s true or not and science wasting time and money on “Are there really foods that enhance the mood?” All plants do because all plant foods contribute to blood flow—our blood flowing without hindrance and our blood flowing through our arteries with no problem. And that means if it can go to all the organs it needs to go to, that means it is reaching all the organs to be able to enhance all of it. So that, to me, is the biggest takeaway and the biggest message for all of us to be talking about when we’re talking about ‘heart month,’ Valentine’s Day: it’s all about blood flow. And that includes blood flowing to the heart and preventing heart attacks, preventing our own hearts from being closed off, symbolically and literally. So it’s a good time to talk about it.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Is there a recipe in the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge you’d recommend for Valentine’s Day?
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: I do. One of the things I talk about when it comes to those kinds of foods – aphrodisiac foods and Valentine’s Day and heart-healthy foods is really the sensual experience. So one of the things we do know is that heat, hot foods and spicy foods, raise our own blood. So it does get things moving and get things flowing. So the Spicy Red Pepper Soup in the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge. And we’re also affected by color. So red has always been a symbolic color of Valentine’s Day. And so same kind of things – you’ve got the red, you’ve got the spiciness. And then also, chocolate. I have a Mexican Chocolate Cake in the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge, and that has cayenne in the frosting and a little bit in the cake as well, and you can make it as spicy as you want. But those kinds of things are wonderful or really perfect for Valentine’s Day. And as you know, because there are no animal products, there’s not animal-based saturated fat or dietary cholesterol animal proteins. So it keeps things moving; it keeps the blood flowing.
CARYN HARTGLASS: That’s food filled with love. Thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food. Where can people find you and the Thirty Day Vegan Challenge?
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: I explain everything on my website, joyfulvegan.com. They can also just go to thirtydayveganchallenge.com and they can sign up for the online program and get the book at the same time.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Sounds very good. Well have a very lovely Valentine’s Day and every day. May it be joyful and delicious!
COLLEEN PATRICK GOUDREAU: Thank you so much. Thank you for all you do.
CARYN HARTGLASS: Thank you! Okay, bye bye! That was nice. That was Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Visit the joyfulvegan.com. And before we go, I was mentioning Bill Clinton, and I just wanted to mention my friend Victoria Moran. She was writing today about how she tried to submit an article into the Huffington Post and she never had a problem getting things published before. But this particular article, an open letter to President Clinton about his change in his dietary habits was rejected. And she’s got it on her website if you want to check it out: mainstreetvegan.net. I told her I’d give people a shout-out about that article. It’s a good one. And now we will take a little break and we will be back in a moment for more delicious talk with Anne Gentry. We’ll be right back.
transcribed by Mekala Bertocci, 2/23/2015
TRANSCRIPTION Part II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody; I’m Caryn Hartglass; we’re back. You’re listening to It’s All About Food, and I think I’ve got my next guest right there: Ann Gentry. How’re you doing?
Ann Gentry: Howdy, Caryn, I’m doing great, out here in sunny California.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m so excited to talk to you. I’m going to gush for a minute, so bear with me. I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time; my partner, Gary De Mattei, he devoured your cookbook, Real Food Daily, and we love (we live in New York), but we love visiting your restaurants in California, and I’ve got a lot of things to talk about, but I just want to say: cashew cheese. Your cashew cheese in the vegan food deli recipe, I mean, so many people have posted it, re-invigorated it, changed it, but yours was the starting point for so many people, and I’ve made it many times, and I’ve made many variations, but, I got to thank you for that.
So, my first question is, this cashew cheese recipe, did you base it on something else you had found a long time ago? How did you get started with cashew cheese?
Ann Gentry: Well, I think only, you know, in an exclusively plant based restaurant, which means, of course, a vegan cuisine, people wanted, well, we started with a very simple menu twelve years ago; it certainly evolved over the few decades, and as it evolved, people wanted to mimic textures and flavors from the typical American diet, and cheese is a big thing in the American diet. So we started looking at that, realizing that we already had the nachos, believe it or not, minus the cheese in the early days, so we knew we had to figure out how to put the cheese together and I can’t remember, it’s been so long, and it’s gone through several evolutions, how we really started the original recipe, but it’s cashew based, and the idea was to get it pourable, so that we could pour it over the nachos, and then spread it over other main entrees and put it on sandwiches and wraps, and people order up for the cashew cheese to embellish on top of the various different dishes that they ordered. And it’s pretty simple. Even though it does require doing agar-agar, which is a seaweed derivative, and not many people know what it is, they don’t know where to find it, it is a little costly, but it goes a long way, and you’ve got to have something to hold the cheese together, if you’re not using animal byproducts.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, the whole cheese, vegan cheese, technology has really gone nuts in the last few decades, and, especially most recently, when people are making real cheeses with enzymes and probiotics, and aging them, and it’s phenomenal, but for many of us, just to be able to make something that’s pretty easy and delicious, like your cashew cheese, it’s just a great, great thing.
Ann Gentry: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah! Okay. And I want to talk about your new book, but, I’ve been so in love with your old book; I just wanted to bring that up, because, what’s wonderful is that there are so many cookbooks out today that are promoting plant foods so deliciously (some of them better than others), and yours has just been a staple, and a foundation of delicious, comforting, wonderful vegan food.
Another favorite of mine that I like to make at parties is your Ranch dressing, from the Real Food Daily cookbook.
Ann Gentry: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And I’ve leaned on your book a number of times for special celebrations like Thanksgiving, because, as I’ve just mentioned, your recipes really tend to be comforting, kind of cozy, satisfying food. So, there you have it.
Ann Gentry: Yeah, there you have it, thank you. I think what I’ve I gotten really well was to take my southern American upbringing, and those kinds of comfort foods that I ate as a child, a grain and 2-3 vegetables, and that format, and my culinary trend was learning how to cook macrobiotics which is a grain and vegetable diet, using a lot of Asian condiments, and that spoke very strongly to me, and when I came to California, I was certainly taking advantage of just the incredible amount of organic produce that we have here, growing, right in this state, and certainly locally (here in Southern California).
Yeah, I didn’t think about it consciously at the time, but I certainly now look back and realize it was those three points that came together, as I developed the cuisine that first I was cooking privately, and then eventually I took that business into opening a restaurant, and today we’re still pretty much on that path, and people still resonate very strongly with that.
Caryn Hartglass: Go on.
Ann Gentry: Well, that’s what you see in both of my cookbooks: my first cookbook you speak about, The Real Food Daily cookbook, that is definitely the recipes from the restaurant, put into whole meals, and my second cookbook, which was originally titled: Vegan Family Meals, we’ve just brought out this week into a paperback format, so it costs a little less; it has a beautiful picture on the cover, but it’s definitely the same content inside, and it’s also a lot of the favorites from the restaurant, and in fact it has the cheese in it as well. I know that I do : we made a couple of tweaks to make it a little more accessible for the home cook, and it’s a beautiful book, it drives the principles of what the fun is about; it really talks to people about how it is accessible, and possible, no matter where they live, to do this in their own home (and no matter what level cook they are), and this, you know, I’d like to debunk the myth that this is a hard cuisine to cook. Not really, it’s just you have to learn how to work with it, so that you can bring flavor and texture to every dish that you make, otherwise people do get bored pretty quickly, if they think it’s just cooking from vegetables, and cooking a pot of brown rice And you can see in the cookbook for everyone that we go way past that!
Caryn Hartglass: I’ll say “Amen” to that. There are some wonderful pictures in this book, the kind where you want to lick the pages, and, like you have a lovely tofu wrap, and there’s just so many interesting looking, delicious looking things inside it, that give so much flavor.
How long have the Real Food Daily restaurants been around? When did you open the first one?
Ann Gentry: Well, we’re definitely a pioneer here in southern California; the first opened in Santa Monica, a beach community here in Los Angeles in 1993, and we’ve gotten on, we’re into 21st year of business, we’re still in the same location, we’ve expanded over the years, spacewise; we have the second location in an area called West Hollywood, west LA and Beverly Hills converged, and then we’re in a community called Pasadena, California, which is sort of north-east of down-town LA, and then a year ago we opened at LAX Los Angeles International Airport with just a small offshoot , more grab and go quick service in a food court, American Airlines.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I want to fly there, just for that! I’ve been to all of your restaurants, except the one in the airport! That’s terrific. That’s really exciting; I’ll have to – whenever I’m flying different places, make that a stopover…
Ann Gentry: Yeah, thanks.
Caryn Hartglass: …just for eating. Okay. It’s been two decades: has the food changed at all, in your life, and in the restaurant’s life?
Ann Gentry: Well, we’ve become more sophisticated, of course. When I started, I started with a one page menu definitely more leaning toward my culinary experience of grains and vegetables, plant proteins from high quality soy products, and beans and legumes, and, you know, that had evolved as the years went by, and great people came in, and worked in the restaurant with me, culinary people, to contribute; they contributed to the menu, and cost, and demand, and desires from our customer base, and we still have people eating with me twenty one years later, that are completely committed to this lifestyle, this way of eating, and so, you know, the menu has gone from one little single page to a much bigger production, and from soups and more appetizers, lots of incredible veggie burger, house meat veggie burger that we make, spicy little burger, and our seasonal specials, and we’ve always had specials from day one, we used to do a different special every day, now with three restaurants we honed that down to really working a couple of different specials each season, which is great, because it’s going back to all roots of knowing what’s growing seasonally, and locally, and putting that to a customer base, and educating people along the way about what that really means , because, you know, we do live in America, we can get anything at any time, and people sort of lose contact with what that really means to do seasonal and local, as well as organic. And I’ve sort of watched the trends come and go, of what seems to be the theme, when I opened up 20 years ago, it was all about the fat-free craze, and we know that didn’t work out for most people; then the high protein, came around back then, it was the Zone Diet amd Atkins, back around now with the Paleo. So I’ve watched things go up and down, and round and round, but in the end people come back to the fact that they need simply eat as much plant-based as they can – you know, I get it, many, many people aren’t going to switch in their life time. But, people are moving more toward it, more often in their life; they do know that it is better for their health, better for the environment; people are completely aware of how we inhumanely treat animals: that was not a big deal twenty years ago. Nobody was really aware about that at all. I think John Robbins came out with it in his first book Diet for a New America, where about awareness started to come around, in the early nineties, when we opened, and his book came out. And now, people talk about that constantly, and there’s much more awareness. People are moved by it, moved by it enough to go: “I’ll become a vegan, because this moves me so deeply.”
Personally, I got into this more for health reasons: I just feel better, and look better. This makes sense, but it evolved for people, and what you needed at one time in your life isn’t necessarily what you need at another time in your life. I would say it had brought me on a food journey, and it’s how you go through that journey, with grace, and openness, and surrender to what’s right for you at this moment. It might not have been right five years ago, and it may not be what you need one down the road. But coming back to vegetables, you know: your mother was right, your grandmother was right, eat your vegetables, and the more vegetables you can eat, the better.
Caryn Hartglass: Speaking of mother was right, you have children, young children?
Ann Gentry: I do.
Caryn Hartglass: How old are they now?
Ann Gentry: Sixteen and almost twelve, so they’re not young any more, bossing around, telling me what to do.
Caryn Hartglass: But, you’ve been feeding them for a long time: how did they respond to your food and are there some special foods for them, or things that are especially kid-friendly?
Ann Gentry: Well, it’s sort of like what I just said: they, too, are on a food journey, it is an evolution, when they’re babies, and they’re eating , you can totally control what they eat. They love vegetables! And then they get out there in the world, they’re wanting to listen: it’s tragic, how we are feeding our children in this world today. It’s tragic, and as a parent, I see that, I come across that every day. So at least we’ve got our nice healthy balance for our kids. They’re eating really well at home, they’re eating well at the restaurants we chose to go to, they’re vegetarian, they understand what that’s about, they’re animal activists, they’re environmentalists, and these young kids get that early on and resonates strongly for them, not just mine but millions of other kids throughout this street.
Are any that are eating a healthy, balanced diet? No, not really. When you’re out there in the world, shoving cheese pizza in your face for a snack, I grew up where cheese pizza was an occasional treat; and it’s in their lives every day, and it’s the sugar, and the consumption of poor quality…I’ve been checking, looking at something last night, and I was looking (I won’t call any brand names), but I was looking at one of these frozen yogurt places, and there it was, it’s warm out here in Los Angeles, and it’s hot, eight o’clock last night, and I looked down the menu card, and, you know, this isn’t even food! It’s not food. It’s just manufactured junk. People rile the experience and there’s something incredibly bad on some level, but there’s nothing nutritionally enhancing about any of it, which is scary for young people as well. They are chowing down wherever they go, junk food is in every store: you go to the drug store, and it’s at the checkout counter, you go to the Salvation Army, and it’s at the checkout counter, go to the Gas Station, or at the convenience store, ….everywhere where you go buying food…
Caryn Hartglass: I know… What’s a parent to do?
Ann Gentry: As a parent, you’ve got to be vigilant, and we do, and you’ve got to try and educate along the way; my kids got a big rock from me last night about the ins and outs of frozen yogurt.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, that’s good. You mentioned yogurt, and until like, maybe in the seventies, we believed yogurt was a healthy food, and it started to grow in this country; people were eating more yogurt, thinking it’s healthy, and people still think it’s healthy, and they don’t even realize that the stuff that’s frozen yogurt isn’t what it used to be. And even if what it used to be was healthy (I’m not saying it is or it isn’t), but it’s not the same.
Ann Gentry: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. But one of the things you mentioned in Real Food for Everyone, in your introduction, is making food at home.
Ann Gentry: Yeah, it’s important.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re a restaurateur, and I know that you want people to come to your restaurant, but you also encourage people to make food, and it is important, and that’s one of the great reasons why we have your books: to know how to make some of these really comforting. I keep using the word comforting – I think that must come from your Southern background, because it really oozes out of your food.
Ann Gentry: It is important that people learn how to cook at home. Sometimes they say it’s a lost art…
Caryn Hartglass: Really?
Ann Gentry: I’m not sure that’s really true. I do see that there is a need: I got nephews, they’re in their late twenties, early thirties, and they have to cook! One’s married; he’s doing a lot of the cooking, and with his friends, when they come together, just like I did, in my twenties and thirties; you come together with your friends, you can’t always afford to eat out; you’re putting your parties, and your dinner parties, and gatherings together, and it’s about who can bring more, and that’s fantastic, so… we live in this fast paced world, and I think it’s so easy and accessible to be fed by others, and there is nothing wrong with that, but there is something comforting and special, and healing, and fulfilling to be able to cook for yourself, whether you’re that one member of your family, because you live alone as a single person, or [? 18:03] a single person and you’re it, or you know, you’ve got a family, or a family of friends, or family of co-workers, how can you get in your own kitchen, so it can be a very soothing, and very meditative experience. After a hard day at work, you can come home, shift gears, put on music, have a little wine, or beer, or carrot juice with turmeric in it or whatever you fancy, and get in the kitchen!
You don’t have to be in the kitchen for hours; again, debunking the myth that vegan food takes so long to prepare, and there’s so much stuff to it – no, and I think again back to how I grew up, you have to have a bit of protein, a couple of vegetables at almost every meal, but, you don’t, I mean a bowl of soup, and grainy bread, a couple of vegetables. You don’t always have to have a protein at meals. So you can keep it simple. It sounds fine to not spend hours, I mean, even when you do. My feeling about taking a lot of premade food from the deli counter: that takes thirty minutes, or thirty five minutes, so I really believe you can put a meal together in thirty to forty five to fifty minutes. And, it’d be, on a whole different level, a real satisfaction, and hey, you have left overs, you can eat that again the next day, or two days later, or you can take it the next day as lunch for school, so there’s a lot of creative ways to keep plain food on your table. And I think it’s important for them to go out and purchase food, go to the Farmers’ Market, go to the produce department of a grocery store. Wherever you live here in America, it is accessible. Vegetables, even if the produce areas have gotten smaller in the big supermarkets; it’s there, it’s possible, and I’m a big advocate of purchasing organically grown produce, but, if you can’t, that’s no excuse not to purchase vegetables. Then get what you can get, what you can afford, and what’s accessible to you in the area that you live. And get in your kitchen and start cooking!
Caryn Hartglass: Now, you…I’ve read your bio; I know you’re involved in lots of different projects, and they all seem like full time jobs to me, so I’m not quite sure how you pull it off, but you own a number of restaurants, you’re a mom to teenagers, and you cook at home from time to time, you have worked with the Vegetarian Times Magazine; are you still doing that?
Ann Gentry: Yes, I’m the…I’m tied up with the Vegetarian Times Magazine: basically, I’m an executive chef, and I can preview recipes and articles, and they call me for different projects they’re doing on a great group of people, they’re based out here in southern California, and it is THE culinary magazine for vegetarian and vegan food., because it’s really driven through recipes, and education and information about these unique foods that aren’t always commonplace to everybody.
What else do I do?
Caryn Hartglass: And you also have a… you have a cooking show!
Ann Gentry: I have a cooking show on something called Veria, I believe it’s changed to V Living; it runs on the Dish Network. I was just in my own local coop opportunity, in Santa Monica, about a week ago, and a gentleman, in the produce department said, “Hello, don’t I know you, don’t you have a cooking show?” I was feeling like a million bucks, and I said, “yes, I do a show”…. It’s still running, it still has a big presence online, with fifty episodes, and focusing on what I know, and, you know, vegan food, it’s called Naturally Delicious with Ann Gentry, and the recipes show up, the recipes hold up, and they have a very exciting time with a full scale production; production values were very high, the food looks beautiful, it’s a great time.
Caryn Hartglass: Good. I’m not on Dish Network, but I know I’ve seen a few clips of you online here and there, and it’s all good. And, where can…is there a way for people to find you, other than find your book; can they follow you somewhere?
Ann Gentry: Oh yeah, we have a big, we have a whole website, of course: Realfood.com, and then we are on all social media, Twitter, I’m on Twitter as Ann Gentry, we’re on it as Real Food Daily, same for Facebook, Instagram, it’s official RFD, and we have quite a following, and quite a presence, and we have a lot of fun on it, and keep people abreast of what we’re doing, at the restaurants, out at LAX, what’s happening in the world of food in this style of cuisine; we would like to keep this, sort of, educational component going, because…and we see that people are very glad to take a tour back, because people do want to understand what they eat, what that means in today’s world, where my food might come from, what’s this mean when I eat it, how does it make me feel, do I want to eat it. They’re really choosy about what they want to and what they don’t want to eat, based on what they know about the food, and where it comes from, and what they believe, you know, how it’s going to effect their health.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, thank you Ann Gentry for joining me on It’s All About Food. I’m looking forward to getting to know Real Food for Everyone as well as I’ve gotten to know the Real Food Daily cookbook, and devouring everything inside. Thanks for sticking with this for so long. You do know what you are doing. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your family!
Ann Gentry: Well, we’re going to do a Real Food Daily Valentine’s high end, four course meal, with wine pairing, people who care to get to LA, and again, every meal that we do is always encouraging people that this is possible, this is possible. So, to help everyone out there, we’ll definitely bring more vegetables and grains into their diet, make their own bodies, and own a better place to be.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s a good way to end: “this is possible”. And this is possible thanks to Ann Gentry of Real Food Daily. Thank You!
Ann Gentry: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Well, we’ve got a minute left, I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s all About Food, and I invite you again to visit responsibleeatingandliving.com (that’s my nonprofit website). We have our brand new Webisode out, Episode 2; we were talking about the Soy Story, and we have a great Transition Kitchen food show for you, where we make vegan hollandaise. And then we have a nice little tribute to the Millennium Restaurant, I mentioned that briefly before, in the first part of the program. it’s a wonderful restaurant that’s been in San Francisco for a little over twenty years! It was the first upscale vegan restaurant I’ve ever gone to, and it’s always been amazing, and I had an opportunity to interview the chef, Eric Tucker, a few years back, and so we’ve included that interview in our recent episode of The Real Good News in Review that’s the real good news! So thanks for joining me again for another hour, and I want to wish you a really love filled Valentine’s Day, and have a delicious week!
Transcribed by Yvonne Beran, March 4, 201