Rich Landau on Vegan, Seasonal Cooking

September  3, 2013

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

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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. 

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



sharon September 18, 2013
When I get bogged down by preparing the "same old thing," I look online to find inspiration from others. I get so excited learning about new ways of preparing vegan foods that I eat daily.
Hannah September 9, 2013
I am inspired by trying to ensure that my 9 month old daughter has a variety of tastes and textures.
Vanessa September 6, 2013
The seasonal and interesting finds at the farmer's market!
cookinginvictoria September 6, 2013
Fresh seasonal produce from the farmer's market and my garden. Cooking with and eating what's growing and being harvested in my community each season keeps things exciting and interesting for me. My new obsessions this summer has been pickling and preserving. I also love cooking with and for my eight year old daughter -- seeing her try new foods is incredibly fun and rewarding.

I am also inspired by so many talented cooks on food52. Many of my family's go-to recipes have come from home cooks on this site! :)
tracyn September 6, 2013
Finding creative ways to get my husband to eat veggies he would not normally eat.
Karen September 5, 2013
Trying something new... And the slim hope my picky toddler will try it
ixshelle September 5, 2013
Going to my local CO-OP or checking out the farmer's market. Seeing super fresh in season produce puts a serious fire in my belly to cook, can, and bake. I went especially crazy during this tomato season.
Angela @. September 5, 2013
My weekly CSA box keeps me inspired. Often it's a new veg but even more often it's looking at a vegetable (or fruit) I cook repeatedly the same way and trying it an entirely new way. Joining a CSA is the smartest thing we've done in a long time. Still an omnivore but now eating several vegan meals a week.
Susige September 5, 2013
Checking in with Food52! I love the variety of columns, the daily updates, and reading the comments on recipes.
Ben H. September 5, 2013
Food TV like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Man vs. Food, and Restaurant Stakeout.
happymontycooks September 5, 2013
Adding and removing "off limits" ingredients to my diet. I gradually became more restrictive and I found ways to replace ingredients that were commonly used. I'm primarily vegan and have eliminated grains, so it's challenging to find substitutes when cooking but it keeps me inspired to try new ingredients or methods for replacing what I've left off the menu. Also, trying spices and ingredients found in different cuisines makes it fun to experiment as well.
Elizabeth J. September 5, 2013
My vegan daughter.
Tiffany L. September 5, 2013
Trying new recipes, using different spices and ingredients...seeing success and enjoying the results.
AmyL September 5, 2013
Experiments with unusual ingredient combinations, different cooking techniques and share them with good friends.
Carrie L. September 4, 2013
I'm inspired by finding new ways to make seasonal vegetables taste great
Helen W. September 4, 2013
New ingredients, weird produce, recipes gone bad, realizing "Oh shoot, I don't have any buttermilk or green onion or pomegranate molasses!" and figuring out where to go from there to make it work. Recipe adaptation to the max around here!
Rachel G. September 4, 2013
Bringing my friends and family together around the table!
jen September 4, 2013
i'm most inspired by the seasons & fresh produce that comes with them! thanks for the chance to win.
Kate September 4, 2013
My farmshare is inspiring me lately and my friend that I share it with!
Jenny September 4, 2013
Chefs, pinterest and looking through cookbooks!