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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarian Essays/Vegan Essays

Chef Jason Wyrick is the Executive Chef of Devil Spice, Arizona's only vegan catering company, and The Vegan Culinary Experience, the only vegan culinary magazine designed by professional chefs. Formerly a diabetic, Chef Wyrick has completely reversed his diabetes with a vegan diet. Upon doing so, he retired from his position as a Director of Marketing for a Fort Worth-based IT firm and became a chef/instructor so he could help other people discover delicious, healthy, compassionate cuisine.

Since 2004, he has catered for organizations such as Farm Sanctuary, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, Google, and Frank Lloyd Wright and has served his food at the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood, California. Chef Wyrick was featured on ABC's Sonoran Living Live and on the front page of the food section in the Arizona Republic and the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. He has been a contributor to Edible Phoenix and was chosen as vegcooking.com's October, 2005 Chef of the Month.

In addition to catering, he regularly teaches vegan cooking classes across the Southwest with occasional classes in Texas and California and regular classes in Phoenix and Sedona. He has taught with Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, Dr. John McDougall, and with Dr. Gabriel Cousens of the Tree of Life. He has also been a guest instructor at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and is the first vegan instructor in the world to be featured in the Le Cordon Bleu program. In addition, Chef Wyrick also edits The Vegan Culinary Experience, the world's only vegan culinary magazine. He specializes in making vegan cuisine both delicious and accessible.


By Jason Wyrick

You've got guests. They eat meat. You don't. And the stress hits. What to serve? What to serve? Will everyone be happy? Will they nod and smile politely and then go out for a steak after the dinner? Maybe they won't even nod and smile politely. The terror. I know. I've been there, especially when I first became vegetarian. However, with over a decade of being vegetarian and several years experience being a vegan chef, I've learned a few things about serving meat-eaters.

Jason Wyrick 1. Serve hearty food.

A smoked portabella mushroom with a sun-dried tomato tapenade is way more appealing than a bean sprout and avocado wrap. Not that I have anything against those, but I know my meat-eating friends would do the wrap a nod and a smile and then run out to the nearest Burger King as soon as they made their escape from my dining table. Serving a hearty dish, that is to say, one that has a deep, dark, rich taste and a filling quality like the portabella mushroom example above, will leave your guests satisfied and addresses one of the primary concerns meat eaters have when dining at a vegetarian table.

2. Be bold!

I sometimes liken eating meat to having a strobe light flashed in one's face. It's hard to notice the contours of light and shadow in a room in such an intense environment and likewise with taste, it's hard to notice the subtlety of flavor that many vegetarian meals carry. Choose something that's going to cut through the strobe-light effect and make your diners jump out of their seats with surprise, delight, and ecstasy. Using chili peppers is a wonderful way to accomplish this, as are caramelized onions, roasted garlic, cumin, fresh peppercorns, smoked paprika, dark herbs like thyme, oregano, and marjoram, and salt. Since meats are generally well salted, your meat- eating diners will be accustomed to saltiness.

3. Avoid meat substitutes (especially tofu), unless the recipe is amazing.

Vegetarian cuisine is certainly good enough to stand on its own, though when a mock meat is used, particularly tofu, it usually doesn't taste as good to the meat eaters. These styles of food often leave guests thinking that perhaps you do, in fact, miss eating meat! Fortunately, if you've got a bold, hearty food at the table, you won't need the meat substitute at all. I have discovered a couple caveat recipes, however, like my barbecued shredded seitan, which is always a winner. I think a large part of that has to do with the fact that it is disguised in an incredible barbecue sauce. Regardless, some recipes like that simply bust the rule.

I have included a list of sample recipes (chipped porcini sandwich, roasted red pepper beer beans, smoked portabella with sun-dried tomato tapenade, chipotle aioli potatoes, sweet potato satay, shorba Addas, and shredded seitan barbecue sandwiches to name a few) you can use at http://www.veganculinaryexperience.com/IVURecipes.htm to help plan your next dining experience with your meat- eating friends. Eat healthy, eat compassionately, and eat well!

Click here for Part 2

We are grateful to Chef Wyrick for graciously offering to share these recipes with our readers.

Mushroom Roulade

Type: Main Dish Serves: 4
Time to Prepare: 30 minutes + 4 hours of marinade time

Mushroom Roulade Ingredients

    2 cups of cubed French bread
    1 stalk of celery, sliced
    1/4 of an onion, chopped
    1 teaspoon of olive oil
    1/4 cup of walnuts
    1/2 of a green apple, diced
    1 tablespoon of paprika
    1/4 teaspoon of salt
    1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
    1/2 cup of vegetable stock
    4 very large portabella mushrooms
    2 cups of red wine
    8 cloves of garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
    Olive oil for brushing
    Pinch of salt
    Apple wood chips for smoking the mushrooms
Option: 1/4 cup of green olives stuffed with sun dried tomatoes for the stuffing


    Remove the stems and gills from the portabellas.
    Mince the garlic.
    Mix the garlic, nutmeg, and red wine together.
    Marinate the portabella caps in the wine solution for at least 4 hours, covered.
    Soak the apple wood chips in water for at least one hour.
    Towards the end of the marinade, prepare the stuffing.
    Chop the onion, slice the celery, and dice the apple.
    Saute these on medium high heat in the 1 tsp. of olive oil until the onion starts to brown.
    Add the cubed French bread, paprika, salt, and pepper.
    Reduce the heat to medium.
    Saute this for about 5 minutes.
    Add in the vegetable stock.
    Cook this for another 10 minutes and remove it from the heat.
    Light up a charcoal grill with the soaked apple chips.
    Take the portabella caps out of the red wine marinade.
    Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle on a touch of salt.
    Place these on the grill until they are soft and pliable.
    Wrap them around the stuffing.
    Pierce them with toothpicks at a diagonal to hold them together.
    Return them to the grill for another 5-10 minutes.
    Brush the mushrooms with the marinade every minute or so to keep them from dying out.

Shorba Adas

Type: Soup Serves: 3
Time to Prepare: 40 minutes

Shorba Adas


    1/4 onion, diced
    1 teaspoon olive oil for sautéing the onion
    1/3 cup carrot, sliced
    1/3 cup potato, small cubes
    1/4 cup lentils
    1/4 cup orzo pasta
    1 tablespoon berbere
    1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
    1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
    3 tablespoon of tomato paste
    1 teaspoon of olive oil


      Slice the onion.
      Cut the carrot in half and then in quarters.
      Cut the quarters into 2 inch slices.
      Cube the potato into 1/2 inch cubes.
      Sauté the onion on a medium high heat until it turns brown.
      Add in the carrots and sauté them for about 3 minutes.
      Reduce the heat to medium.
      Add in the potato and sauté it for about five minutes.
      Add in the vegetable broth and heat it until it is warm.
      Stir in the tomato paste and spices.
      Add in the berbere and ginger.
      Bring the soup to a simmer.
      Add in the lentils and orzo pasta.
      Cover the pot.
      Reduce the heat to medium-low.
      Cook for 20 minutes.
      Remove from the heat.
      Stir in the olive oil and salt.

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