The Foodish Boy Goes Vegan
In trying to work 52 jobs in a year, I did expect a few hiccups along the way. Somewhere during the year, I was bound to receive a cancellation and end up looking for work at the last minute. Arriving in Los Angeles a few weeks back, that day came. The restaurant I was due to work at had shut up shop and flown to Copenhagen for the MAD culinary symposium. Jobless, I had no other option than to do what I had been secretly dreading — cold-calling restaurants for work.
After several botched attempts, my host for the week, Dan, suggested I call Café Gratitude, a nearby organic vegan restaurant. A few minutes later and armed with a heavy dose of Yorkshire charm, I had my secured my next job. From goat slaughtering to a vegan restaurant; I couldn’t have picked two more contrasting jobs in the space of a week.
Café Gratitude gives huge prominence to food that supports health and sustainability for both their community and the planet. The fascinating part, however, is their belief in "Sacred Commerce," a philosophy of "honest and transparent communication, and gratitude for the richness of our lives." All dishes are given affirmations such as "I am HUMBLE" or "I am FABULOUS," so clients "can practice affirming great qualities in themselves." Staff members also ask you a philosophical question when you order. But this was no shack bashing out bowls of quinoa to tie-dye hippies, this was a pristine marble-topped restaurant serving gourmet food to LA’s rich and famous. I wanted to find out more.
My time at Café Gratitude was split between two areas: the pastry section and cooking on the line. Having already worked at a patisserie, it was interesting to learn about the challenges faced when adapting traditionally dairy based recipes for the vegan market. Café Gratitude prides itself on offering some of the best vegan desserts around, and after stealing a few cheeky tasters, it was hard not to agree with them. "ADORING," a tiramisu with almond cake, espresso, and coconut cashew cream? "IRRESISTIBLE," a coconut cream pie with chocolate swirl and dark chocolate crust? Gratitude’s creativeness opened my mind to many different approaches to dessert-making.