The first time I heard tell of a group of people who eschewed not only meat but all animal products, I was stunned. I put down the fork and steak knife and said, "Exactly what do these people eat anyway?"
As I started dating a woman whose father and sister are strict vegetarians, I got a very thorough education in the various degrees of abstinence from animal products. I can't count the number of vegetarian restaurants I've been to where the unifying characteristic was a total lack of flavor. While I'm not exactly stopping my meat-eating ways, there are a very, very few restaurants that define themselves as vegan that I would patronize given a range of other choices.
The Veggie Grill, the darling of Orange County's non-meat-eating denizens, is one of those places. The pair of Irvine restaurants have the distinction of having some of the only sweet potato fries I've ever eaten and liked and the only "fake meat" I've ever liked (the "chicken" Caesar wrap).
Ray White, who co-founded Native Foods, is the mind behind the menu at the Veggie Grill. He sent back his responses, which are below. This all leaves only one question: how exactly do you pronounced "vegan" anyway? Veeg-in, or vayg-in?
1. Dish you cook that most represents you?
Marinated All Hail Kale salad. It's simple yet tasty with the right blend of marinade and spices.
2. What was the last meal you had at home?
Vegetarian sushi rolls.
3. Your favorite restaurant (other than your own)?
Millennium in San Francisco.
4. Fast food guilty pleasure?
Nothing pleasurable about fast food.
5. Complete this sentence: "I would like to (verb) (Food Network star) with (noun)", such as "I would like to BEAT BOBBY FLAY with a STALE BAGUETTE" or "I would like to SHOWER GIADA DE LAURENTIIS with FLOWERS".
I would love to do away with Rachael Ray.
6. Last meal of your life, what would it be?
Pineapple upside down cake and a cold beer.
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7. Items you always have in your refrigerator?
Silk soy creamer and dog food.
8. Your most indispensable kitchen tool or appliance?
A VERY sharp knife...just ask my right index finger.