New & NowVegan

Rich Landau on Vegan, Seasonal Cooking

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We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today: Rich Landau, half of this week's guest editor duo, talks to us about what inspires the menu at his restaurant, Vedge -- and how he's raising an intrepid eater.

Rich and Kate VEDGE

At Philadelphia's Vedge, a vegan restaurant loved by vegans and omnivores alike, chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby offer a menu at once globally inspired and locally sourced. With their new cookbook, Vedge, they have translated some of their most-loved recipes into the language of a home kitchen. 

As part of their guest editorship this week, we talked to Rich about what inspires him and how he approaches feeding his young son. We're also giving away five copies of the book -- be sure to weigh in in the comments to enter!

Explain your approach to vegan cooking.
I am a carnivore at heart. I gave up eating meat for ethical reasons, so I needed to create a cusine that would satisfy my carnivorous palate. Our flavors are layered, rustic, and bold -- designed to satisfy the inner caveperson in us all.

You change the vegetable sides -- a.k.a. the "dirt list" -- at your restaurant every night. What inspires you to keep innovating?
The cycle of the seasons. When you run a vegetable restaurant, you don't need a calendar. I love the outdoors and the constant changing of the seasons, so it's easy for me to get inspired every single day with cooking.   

What are the recipes that your regulars will be most excited to see in the book?
There are actually quite a few that are in the book "by popular demand." Probably the most requested are the fingerling fries, the gold beets, and the figgy toffee pudding.

More: Get Rich and Kate's recipe for French-inspired Portobello Frites. 

Portobello Frites from Food52

What was your primary reason for writing a cookbook? Was it demand, or your own desire?  
All of the above. Writing a cookbook is a labor of love. It's really gratifying to think that our guests will be dabbling with Vedge recipes in their home kitchens.

What sorts of things do you cook for yourselves at home? What do you cook for your son?  
Our meals at home run from the simple bowl of soba noodles in shiitake dashi one night to an all-out, 9-plate Mediterranean feast another. Our son has always been a great eater and he pretty much eats what we put on the table. We have never given him a kids' menu at a restaurant. We want him to be able to appreciate good food and real food. 

What is the most essential ingredient in the Vedge kitchen?  
A creative spirit.

We're giving away three copies of Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby's new cookbook, Vedge! To enter, tell us in the comments: What keeps you inspired in the kitchen? We'll pick winners at random by Friday, September 6 at 3 PM EST. 

Tags: Lists, Interviews