Catering students brush-up on veggie catering skills

Posted by Maggie on 20/08/19 in Recipes, VfL News and Events

I was recently asked to deliver a veg*n training session to a group of catering students at City of Liverpool College by their tutor, Philip Rowlands. This is something I’d been looking forward to because it gave me the opportunity to showcase new food items and ingredients to a group of people who followed a more traditional meat-eating diet. Teaching about essential vitamins and minerals, how to get protein, and eat healthily as a veg*n were also areas for discussion.

Presenting food to those who aren’t veg*n can be fun; it gives me a chance to show how tasty plant-based meals can be. Tofu, seitan and jackfruit are all food items you’ve probably heard of many times before if you’re veg*n, but to others these can sound alien. I remember cooking tofu for the first time as an art student back in Liverpool. It went horribly wrong so I stayed away from it until a friend showed me how to cook it correctly. So here I was, ready to demonstrate how easy this could be to a group of catering students who were eager to learn!

I began the session with a short introduction to my background and the work of V for Life. After a short chat it became apparent that none of the students were veg*n. They wanted to learn about products currently on the market so I brought along a small kitchen larder, and my Pandora’s box of veg*n delights! I do this for all training sessions because it’s a great way to introduce items that people may have seen, but maybe never tried themselves.

Throughout the afternoon we cooked tofu scramble, jackfruit curry, seitan, creamy chicken-less pie, vegan stuffing quiche and tofu chocolate mousse. We discussed how easy it is to swap meat and dairy for plant-based items; from full English breakfasts to plant milks, baking swaps and curries.

The students really enjoyed the afternoon and we had some great feedback on the day. 100% of attendees rated the training as excellent or very good. Here’s what some of the students had to say:

Well focussed.

Great enthusiasm for the topic.

Great chef with passion for what she does.

Good variety of dishes on the day.

I now have some alternate vegetarian and vegan options for my menu.

While most college catering courses do include a section on vegetarian diets, the amount of time given to the subject varies, although it’s often limited. With a 360% increase in the number of vegans in the last decade it’s essential that colleges start to recognise this and provide training to ensure their chefs are able to meet the demands of this rising market.

As more people are choosing to reduce meat and dairy consumption the food industry is taking note, providing a more varied range of products that consumers will enjoy. It’s never been better in the UK for veg*ns – supermarkets have own-brand free-from sections, and chain restaurants offer great selections of plant-based dishes with some high street chains now offering fully vegan menus. Care homes are also stepping up to the mark, often offering meat-free options at every meal.

Raising awareness in professional kitchens is not only easy, but with 1 in 3 Brits now reducing or stopping their meat consumption, ensuring that all dietary needs are catered for is essential.

If you’d like us to help your chefs to up their game with their vegetarian and vegan offerings please get in touch with our training co-ordinator, Ellie, to arrange a visit: ellie@vegetarianforlife.org.uk or 0161 257 0887.

You can find out more about the range of training that we offer, here.


Tofu Scramble

Serve on toast by itself, or as part of a cooked breakfast.

Serves: 4
Time to prepare: 10 mins
Time to cook: 10 mins
Dietary requirements: Dairy-free, Egg-free, Vegan, Halal, Kosher

Ingredients

1 pack firm tofu, about 350g

1 onion, chopped

2 peppers, diced (mixed colours)

Handful of chopped mixed vegetables. A recommended selection is: mushrooms, tomatoes, diced cooked potato, and sweetcorn

2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil or coriander)

2 tsp soya sauce

1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)*

Pinch of turmeric

*Nutritional yeast flakes is a vegan food with cheesy, nutty flavour, rich in vitamins and minerals. It is very versatile and can be added to liquids such as milk, fruit and vegetable juices. It’s useful for making vegan ‘cheese’ sauces and to add to soup

Instructions

  1. Sauté onion in a little oil, add peppers and other vegetables and continue until lightly cooked.
  2. Crumble tofu through hands into pan. Add soya sauce, turmeric and yeast flakes. Cook for about 5 minutes until water from tofu has largely cooked off and consistency is like scrambled eggs.
  3. Add herbs and season to taste.

Healthy Chocolate Mousse

Serves: 4

Time to prepare: 5 mins
Dietary requirements: Dairy-free, Egg-free, Vegan

Ingredients

170g firm silken tofu

2–3 tsp cocoa powder

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp vegan milk of choice

pinch salt

2 tbsp maple syrup

juice of ½ a lime

Instructions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together (except the chopped nuts).
  2. Pour mixture into a bowl and store in fridge.
  3. When serving, sprinkle over with chopped nuts or shards of dark chocolate

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