A vegetarian’s delight

photo-alejandros-recipe1Alejandro, tell us about your home town and the food that influences you.

I was born in Buenos Aires Argentina with not much food influence to be honest, but i used to care about what I ate, from dressing my salads to and the foods that I chose. While other chefs may have a massive food influence or maybe were born in a country where they could choose from 10 different kinds of cheeses and have fresh seafood in any supermarket, this wasnt my case. What i have learnt began when i turned 18. I left Argentina at this time and worked and travelled the world for the last 12 years in fine dining restaurants in Japan, France, Spain, UK and Mexico, plus a few more…

I came to a vegan degustation at Urbane in 2013 and it was here that we met. It was amazing food, superbly presented with sensational flavours. Many of my readers are interested in seeking alternatives to a meat based diet and would be interested in a vegan fine dining menu. Why did you choose to offer a vegan degustation?

I went vegan (at home) on my 28th birthday and the reason I am promoting this way of living is because it makes sense… It’s an ethical choice. I think eating animals is wrong, but we are disconnected with reality and many don’t see it this way. We see a happy cow and think steak or milk, yet this is not what i see. Peope need to wake up and be more responsible for their choices.

This year you were awarded the Good Food Guide Chef of the Year. Congratulations! What is the philospophy behind the food you buy and prepare for your diners?

I try to choose organic and local food as much as possible. For that we work with suppliers and farmers that understand our vision. In a restaurant there are always decisions to be made , and I try to be honest to myself on each decision. French cheese or Maleny Dairy? Should I use caviar and Foie gras?, organic or not organic. How do we manage our waste? How should we treat the staff? I am always learning.

What are your plans for 2014?

To be the best version of myself that I can be.I dont like competition, and i dont want to obsess with ‘beat last year’. I prefer to grow, mature and learn. And on top of everything be happy!

Thanks Alejandro.

Recipe for Roasted Eggplant, Quinoa, Hummus and Tahini emulsion

Ingredients for 4 people:

2 eggplants
Cut each eggplant into 4 slices. Pan fry them both side with a little olive oil until soft inside. Finish with salt and pepper.

For the hummus:

100g chick peas soaked 24 hours them cooked til soft
1/2 garlic clove, bruised
20 tahini

pinch of paprika

30 g olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
Blitz all together adding a little filtered water if needed.

For the quinoa:

100g quinoa
200g tomatoes
parsley, tarragon, mint, chervil
Lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper
Cook the quinoa in boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain and cool. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and chop the herbs. In a bowl mix the quinoa, herbs, tomatoes and season with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.

For the tahina emulsion:
50g rice milk (soy and oat milk are ok too.)
300g grapeseed oil
50 g tahini
Mustard, lemon, salt and pepper

Blitz the rice milk, a teaspoon of mustard, lemon juice salt and pepper with a hand blender. Slowly add half of the grapeseed oil. Now add the tahini and blitz again. Finish slowly by blitzing the remaining grapeseed oil. Add a little filtered water if the mix is too stiff. Taste and rectify the flavour with seasonings.

To finish:
Place 2 hot slices of eggplant on each plate. Add some of the hummus with a spoon to the side of the eggplant. PLace the quinoa on top and dot around with the tahini emulsion. Serve with a small salad