From Meatless Mondays to Vegan Tuesdays – the culinary world is becoming greener, more organic, more animal friendly and possibly even tastier? The cynical amongst you may be sniggering but you know that we know it’s only because you’ve never tried vegan food. Believe us, it’s relatively new here at Quattro HQ and there were scoffs aplenty – until they tried it….Not only are our staff sold on the idea that consuming a plant-based diet is a healthy way to live, they have accepted and embraced the fact that the flavours are as delicious as anything they’ve eaten.
And at Quattro Foods we don’t do things by halves. Organic? Vegan? Bring it on! We’re not only eating it, we’re growing it!
It all began when one of our loyal and discerning clients requested a vegan range. Of course our very clever development chefs, Tony1 and Tony2, are old hat at creating top of the range vegetarian food, but making dairy-free, egg-free and meat-free dishes that taste amazing, was a challenge they took on with relish. And of course the result had to taste as good as the produce we’re used to seeing emerge from the Quattro kitchen.
The NPD team got straight to work. They thought and they planned. They masterminded and they strategized. They tried and they tested. And the result is pretty spectacular. Quattro Foods’ new bespoke vegan range is exceptionally healthy, incredibly organic and truly tasty.
Working to the client’s brief and producing a varied and delicious vegan range was quite a task but we didn’t let them down. The team’s talents have resulted in (amongst other delicious delights) a Malaysian coconut curry, laced with vegetables, sweet potato, chilli, lemongrass, ginger, garlic and coconut milk – a hearty vegan dish to serve with light fragrant jasmine rice.
To complement this vegan masterpiece, they have also come up with some other delicious summer recipes, for our non-vegan clients who are looking for the freshest, tastiest food products around:
• Green vegetable risotto, made with Arborio rice, spinach, peas and asparagus laced with a good dose of vegetarian Italian style cheese and crème fraiche
• Sicilian summer chicken sauce, using chicken thigh for extra taste and full of Mediterranean vegetables and a lashing of olives and capers, with delicate herbs and, of course, a dash of white wine
Tony1 and his team have sought out the best seasonal ingredients, including an abundance of fresh vegetables like asparagus and baby leaf spinach and salad ingredients such as tomatoes, chillies and various types of lettuce including Romaine and baby gems. They have also made creative use of a variety of fresh herbs and have brought in sacks of the Quattro team’s favourite – Jersey Royal Potatoes – which they agree are simply the best served with minted butter!
We grabbed Tony1 on his way into the kitchen last week and asked him if he’d mind taking a few minutes off from his creative genius to answer some questions and to give us an insight into his working practices and extensive experience and how he’s adapted his team’s skills to create the components of a vegan feast.
We wanted to know about the latest demand for vegan food and how the food manufacturing industry, and Quattro Foods specifically, has adapted.
Q. Has there been increased demand for vegan food products from within the industry in recent years?
A. Yes absolutely is the short answer. In the last 2 years demand has most certainly grown for more plant based vegan products from customers.
Q. Is this a reflection of high street trends?
A. It’s mainly due to trending but also I feel it’s due to more customers wanting to explore the world of plant based foods as opposed to meat based products. It’s not just marketing, although they’re being promoted as healthier, evidence suggests that a vegan diet really is beneficial to our health on so many levels.
Q. Is demand for vegan products seasonal?
A. Certainly demand has varied a little with seasonal changes, but the principals remain – the hard part is being creative in the face of seasonal changes. Sometimes as chefs we must be reactive when a quality ingredient becomes available and is in good supply at a particular time of the year.
Q. How easy (or not!) is it to source vegan ingredients?
A. The standard ingredients such as vegetables, beans and lentils, soya based dairy alternatives are all available in abundance all year round as demand is high and there are many lines to choose from. We tend to use the higher end dairy alternative Coyo brand coconut yoghurt as an example, which, alongside items such as Violife cheese, are now more readily available in semi-bulk pack sizes.
Q. When creating vegan products, how do you compensate for the minimal protein content?
A. Yes we do have to consider this issue in some dishes. We use lots of chickpeas, lentils and other pulses in abundance to help combat protein loss.
Q. Is vegan cooking new to you?
A. Not really, as we have been producing some wonderful soups and curry type dishes for some customers for many years that were already within the vegan category; and delicious ones at that…..
Q. Do Quattro customers have any involvement in the process of creating specialist products such as vegan foods?
A. Yes we value our customers’ insights and knowledge and we do involve them in the recipe ideas that require specifically vegan products, then we turn them into a commercial recipe for their business.
Thanks again to business development chef Tony1 and also to our clients whose foodie challenges allow us to explore new ingredients and create innovative and delicious food products, following culinary trends, meeting demand and continuing to produce delicious food to feed the nation.