Vegan cooking was certainly not something French chef Gregory Defraize typically dealt with during his long career in the culinary arts. But with growing concerns about health, animal welfare and the state of the environment, he has become more and more interested in pushing his own limits and applying his extensive culinary knowledge to the sustainable food scene. For Gregory and his wife/business partner Yeonjin, a collaboration between L’Empreinte Bistro and Vegan Dining Seoul represented the perfect way to begin that journey.
This edition of Vegan Dining Seoul (April 29, 2018) has been in the works since January 2018 when Gregory first reached out to us. After learning about the many vegan substitutes available and discovering YouTube legends like Gaz Oakley at Avant Garde Vegan, Gregory was ready to jump in. He immediately set to work veganizing his chocolate fondant recipe using almond powder, chia seeds, dark chocolate, amaretto liquor and triple sec. The final version will be the featured Vegan Dining dessert this weekend.
Chef Gregory loves the challenge vegan cooking provides and is particularly fond of using chia seeds in the place of eggs and apple cider vinegar as an emulsion for mayo. They have even found an organic French wine made with only plant ingredients for is diners to enjoy. Sign up here
Vegan Dining in Seoul. How did it get started? Well, I had been thinking about it for quite some time but the thing that finally lit the fire under my butt was more of a whim than anything. A friend of mine was in town and on his last night he said he wanted some Italian food. You are probably asking yourself, “Who asks for Italian food on their last night in Korea?”. That thought occurred to me too but I love Italian so I didn’t argue.
Brera was the first place that popped into my mind, probably because of owner Giovanni’s obnoxious yet somehow refreshing presence in my Facebook feed. Without calling ahead to inquire about the vegan options, we just showed up on their doorstep. Despite having given no notice, they still stepped up to recommend vegan or veganizable dishes for me and even gave me a heads up on the honey in their bread. They then proceeded to bake me some of the bread they use for their pizza dough so I could have some too. Fresh out of the oven. I felt like a queen. Their pasta is handmade and contains egg but I was pleased to see that if you are okay with them using dry pasta instead it is easy to get vegan pasta as well.
Walking away from that experience, and seeing how willing they were to work with me, I decided to launch a series of dining events that would bring people together in non-vegan restaurants representing various world cuisines. There are two things I hope to accomplish. First, I want to get local restaurants thinking about plant-based cooking and hopefully get more options on their menu. That kind of approach makes it easier for vegans to socialize in this non-vegan world and more convenient for people to make healthier choices when they eat out. Secondly, I want to create special experiences for people of all backgrounds to come out and enjoy yummy plant-based food while getting to know each other. For people who are following a plant-based lifestyle, it gives people a break from cooking at home or going to the same regular spots. For those who are curious about plant-based living, it is an opportunity to experience a plant-based meal and be instantly connected to a supportive community who is always available to help. I am all about a pragmatic approach to creating a more plant-based world. In that way, I have been influenced a lot by the folks at The Good Food Institute and Tobias from The Vegan Strategist. It has to be fun, offer tasty food and positive social interaction. And to me, that is exactly what the Vegan Dining series has to offer. For updates on events, be sure to join the Seoul Veggie Club on Facebook. See you there!