“I’m doing an ice cream sammich!” Chef Laney Jahkel-Parrish shouted with glee when asked about her vegan dish for the month of September.
Jahkel-Parrish (although if you’ve met, you’ll know her simply as “Laney” and know she’s a neck-hugger) is the pastry chef at 300 East. Along with chef owner and Charlotte pastry godmother, Ashley Bivens Boyd, Jahkel-Parrish and a handful of other chefs in town are taking part in Veg Out Charlotte as part of a nationwide challenge issued by The Humane League to help promote vegan offerings on local menus.
The Humane League is an international nonprofit working to end the abuse of animals raised for food. The organization created the Veg Out Challenge “to feel good and do good” by eating more plant-based foods.
Kelsey Joseph, with the Humane League, helped organize Veg Out Charlotte 2019. Joseph sees “an awesome opportunity for our city to become a leader in plant-based fare,” given the intersectionality of Charlotte’s fast growth with the rise of veganism as a food trend.
For the month of September, these five Charlotte kitchens will offer at least one vegan dish on their menus. Vegan diners will see what some of our best chefs can do without the use of animal products; and meat-eaters, pescatarians, ketogenic-ers and good ol’ fashioned vegetarians get a chance to order a vegan plate or two for the table to share. Or participants in the challenge can go all-in and eat vegan for a day, a week, or Veg Out’s ultimate goal: the entire month of September.
Check out these vegan dishes offered in local kitchens during the month of September for Veg Out Charlotte 2019, although menu items are subject to change with the season.
4001-A Yancey Road
Sous chef Allison Hunt: Smoked butternut squash, pumpkin beer mole negro, Anson Mills rice
A new local brewery participating in a vegan event? We dig it (veggie pun acknowledged and apologized for). Expertise in plant-based cookery should come as no surprise as sous chef Allison Hunt worked with Veg Out organizer Julia Simon at Nourish Charlotte before moving to Brewers at 4001 Yancey to work for executive chef Drew Ward.
The dish Hunt will feature for Veg Out is an early taste of fall: smoked butternut squash “steaks,” Anson Mills rice and a pumpkin beer mole sauce made with Southern Tier’s Pumpking Imperial Ale.
4237 Park Rd., Unit B
Chef Daniel Wheeler: Beet risotto, sumac roasted carrot, crispy kale
According to chef Daniel Wheeler, his mission is to minimize his kitchen’s carbon footprint. And inclusivity is his goal for all who dine at Dot Dot Dot. He said, “While I typically do incorporate meat and dairy of some kind in the majority of my cuisine, I strive to find options for those who choose to live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.”
For Veg Out, Wheeler is featuring several local farms in a risotto made with Anson Mills Carolina Gold rice and The Chef’s Farmer red beet purée, with sumac roasted Honey Tree Farm carrots and crispy kale.
224 E 7th St.
Chef Jose Espinosa: Grain salad with cashew cheese crostini
No, cheese is not vegan. But owners Jose Espinosa and Rachel Klebaur don’t let that stop them from working with people like Scott Harris, owner of Viva Raw and neighbor at 7th Street Public Market, to incorporate plant-based alternatives like Harris’ cashew cheese.
Chef Jose Espinosa is utilizing Viva Raw’s sundried tomato cashew cheese on top of a crostini alongside a grain salad with nuts, seeds and citrus. Espinosa is an expert at featuring some of the world’s best cheeses, so expect the same intentionality with a vegan version.
Pro-tip: Grab an aged cheese like Pecorino or Pleasant Ridge Reserve for an October treat (or a gift if you’re vegan).
118 E. Charles St., Matthews
Chef Brett Levan: Market Mediterranean Salad
Chef Brett Levan has worked in some of the top kitchens in the Charlotte area from Halcyon: Flavors of the Earth to Dilworth Tasting Room to his new position as executive chef of The Portrait Gallery in downtown Matthews. Around the corner from the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market, the restaurant is perfectly situated to take advantage of the bounties offered by local small farms, making this intimate space with small, shareable plates an ideal candidate for vegans and the vegan-curious, alike.
Levan’s offering is the Market Mediterranean Salad with quinoa dressed in a tahini vinaigrette with roasted eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes and olives. The plate will be finished with a saffron emulsion and red pepper.
300 East Boulevard
Chef Ashley Bivens Boyd: Seasonal vegetable plate
Bivens Boyd is a powerhouse of pastry. But since handing the dessert reins to pastry chef Jahkel-Parrish, she’s turned her attention to the rest of the menu. With such a loyal and long standing customer base, changes have been approached with cautious calculation. One thing she has carried over from her transition from sweet to savory: her use of vegetables. The ceiling is high and the future bright for this 25-year+ kitchen, and Boyd’s presence is increasingly felt.
At 300 East, Boyd is composing a vegetable plate that, according to her, “may evolve week by week to take advantage of what’s looking best from our growers.” The first iteration will feature one of Boyd’s signatures — the use of varying textures on a plate — with braised dragon tongue beans, crispy mushrooms, tomatoes, basil, almond ricotta, and fried organic almonds.
Pastry Chef Laney Jahkel-Parrish: Ice cream “sammich”
Jahkel-Parrish recently took over the pastry program at 300 East to allow Bivens Boyd more freedom to concentrate on the savory side of the menu. Elements from Boyd carry over like the use of varying textures on her dessert plates, but where Boyd utilized savory ingredients from herbs to vegetables, Jahkel-Parrish approaches plates with childlike nostalgia — adding things like malted milk balls, Coca-Cola and homemade marshmallows into her repertoire.
For Veg Out, she’s riffing on her popular butterscotch ice cream sandwich by substituting out the butterscotch ice cream with vanilla (made from cashew and coconut milks) swirled with miso caramel and smashing it between two of her vegan chocolate chip cookies. The dish will be plated with sautéed pineapple and more miso caramel.
To request additional information on Veg Out Charlotte 2019, visit the website. People interested in helping animals can visit https://thehumaneleague.org/take-action or email Kelsey Joseph directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.