I am so glad to have chef and fellow plant-based lover Mark Reinfeld on my blog today! Mark is a multi-award winning chef and author of the 30 Minute Vegan series. He is the recipient of Vegan.com’s Recipe of the Year Award and has over 20 years’ experience preparing creative vegan and raw food cuisine. Mark is the Executive Chef for the North American Vegetarian Society’s Summerfest, one of the largest vegetarian conferences in the world. He is described by VegCooking.com as being “poised on the leading edge of contemporary vegan cooking”. Mark is the founding chef of the Blossoming Lotus Restaurant in Portland, OR, winner of Honolulu Advertiser’s ‘Ilima Award for “Best Restaurant on Kaua’i”, and is the recipient of a Platinum Carrot Award for living foods – a national award given by the Aspen Center of Integral Health to America’s top “innovative and trailblazing healthy chefs.” He also teaches workshops, trainings, and culinary immersions world-wide and online at www.veganfusion.com. His first cookbook, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, has won 9 national awards including a Gourmand award for “Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the USA.” His seventh cookbook, Healing the Vegan Way, will be available this Spring.
After reading about the work he has done in the plant-based world, I just had to have him on my blog! Continue reading to learn more about Mark’s culinary views and one of his favorite recipes!
What inspired your own plant-based journey?
I connected with animals while working on a kibbutz in Israel.
Has it been challenging to work in the culinary field with a plant-based focus?
My whole professional career has centered around vegetarian, then vegan, and raw food cuisine. I have always been clear that I will only work with plant based foods, so it has never been an issue for me.
Do you think that things are changing for the better in the culinary world, as chefs move more to plants?
I am amazed at the awareness surrounding vegan cuisine that is developing in the culinary world. I recently conducted a chef training for Bon Appetit Management Company and trained chefs from Wolfgang Pucks, John Hopkins University, The Museum in Washington DC, and other colleges. They enlisted my services for the training because of the massive increase in demand among students and customers at their venues. The more main-stream chefs embrace plant based foods, the more they will be contributing their creativity to the evolution of the cuisine.
Tell us a bit about your Vegan Fusion Academy.
The Academy is an extension of the workshops, chef trainings and culinary tours I have been offering internationally over the last several years. Currently I have one, two and five day trainings in the form of a pop up culinary school here in Miami.
What do you say to people who say their afraid to go plant-based because they’ll “miss meat”?
I make suggestions for replacements depending upon where they are at. While I strongly advocate a whole foods, plant based diet, I do feel that many of the ‘analogue’ meat products are super important and helpful for people who still have strong cravings for meat. There are so many wonderful products on the market now that can replicate the flavor and texture of meat based products. What are your favorite cooking tips for a more plant-focused eating style? I encourage people to get more creative with salads…add different veggies, cut or spiralized in different ways. Add raw or toasted nuts or seeds, different legumes and grains. You can also experiment with one ingredient a week, every other week or once a month. Learn about how the ingredient is used and incorporate into your culinary repertoire.
Please share your 5 favorite foods that you can’t live without.
Personally I enjoy…
1. Quinoa as a grain (botanically a seed) 2. Nutritional yeast as a condiment (for protein, B-vitamins and a nutty cheesy flavor) 3. Wheat-free tamari to enhance the flavor of dishes 4. Chipotle powder for its smoky heat as a spice 5. Kale or collards as a dark leafy green 6. (Bonus) Black sesame seeds as a favorite garnish
Can you share one of your favorite recipes with us?
1 large ripe plantain, sliced diagonally into 1/4 inch slices
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or sweetener of choice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons oil (try coconut)
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of chili powder (try chipotle)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Black Bean Soup
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/4 cups diced yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon seeded and diced jalapeño pepper
4 cups vegetable stock or water
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained well, or 3 cups cooked
3/4 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup seeded and diced red bell pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare the plantains: Place the plantain ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Transfer to a well-oiled baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes, flipping once after 6 minutes. Carefully transfer to a serving plate so the plantains do not stick to the pan as they cool down.
Meanwhile, place a 3-quart pot over high heat. Place the cumin and chili powder in the pot and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño, and stir well.
Lower the heat to medium-high, add the vegetable stock, black beans, and carrot, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the red bell pepper and corn and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the cilantro, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cilantro and mix well.
Top each serving with a few pieces of plantain and enjoy.