Talking with chef tal

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting well-known celebrity chef Tal Ronnen at a talk hosted by the Toronto Vegetarian Association.

A vegan visionary, Chef Tal spoke to the room full of vegans and vegetarians about cooking for notables like Oprah (for her 21-day vegan cleanse), Ellen DeGeneres (for her vegan wedding), Kathy Preston and the Dalai Lama, as well as his success at opening minds and menus to vegan options with his meat- and dairy-free fare. He was incredibly genuine and down-to-earth, despite his quick rise to fame.

Aside from being a creative chef who rubs elbows with celebrities, chef Tal serves as an advisor to college and corporate cafeterias on veganizing their menus and has worked with major gourmet vegan restaurants around the world. He also helped in the development of Gardein vegan meat replacement products, and conducts master vegetarian classes at Le Cordon Bleu campuses in the United States.

He spoke about the process of creating his best-selling book, The Conscious Cook, where he reveals his secret to appealing to the masses: maximizing the nutritional benefits and taste of his favourite plant-based proteins. The book offers cooking tips, serving suggestions and rich, elegant, restaurant-level recipes like “chicken” scaloppini with shiitake sake sauce, braised pea shoots and crispy udon noodle cakes; artichoke ricotta tortellini with saffron cream sauce; and Cajun portobello with avocado and remoulade. Each recipe is also accompanied by stunning, full-colour photographs.

During the engaging discussion, we were able to taste his celery root soup with Granny Smith apples, which was a lovely combination of the celery-flavoured root vegetable, tart apples and creamy-smooth cashew cream, and topped with chive oil (you can find the recipe here).

Chef Tal’s talk has inspired me to take my meals to the next level, especially when cooking for family and friends who are used to the idea of meat being the centre of the meal. A big thanks goes to Lisa for organizing the TVA event. I’m eager to dive into my new, chef-signed cookbook and will post some of my thoughts about it very soon!



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