Vegan Life talks to recipe developer and restaurant owner Pamela Elizabeth about creating a menu and the future of vegan food
Pamela Elizabeth is a recipe developer who owns eight restaurants in the US including Blossom du Jour in New York City.
Blossom du Jour serves vegan delights including the breakfast scramble wrap (savoury tofu, peppers, onions, herbs and spices), the burger bowl (beet, bean or quinoa burger pattie, savoury rice, mixed greens, grilled veggies and horseradish mayo) and the delicious sloppy jack sandwich (BBQ jackfruit in a toasted garlic potato bun).
Pamela is also the brains behind Cocoa V. Cocoa V creates luxury, artisanal, hand-crafted, vegan chocolates, confections and pastries in the heart of New York City. Lavender vanilla bon bons, peanut brittle, pretzel caramel clusters and fall spice cake with vanilla frosting are just some of the delicious treats created by Cocoa V.
We spoke to the creator of these decadent delights about her signature style, creating her menus and her personal vegan journey.
Tell us about your own vegan journey.
I’ve been vegan for over 20 years, and I find it tremendously encouraging and exciting to see how many people are beginning to gravitate towards a different and better way of eating and living. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do in order to make a real dent in the treatment of farmed animals, and to improve our overall health. For me, the road to veganism all started when I was a teenager. I received a pamphlet in the mail that I believe changed the course of my life.
The pamphlet was from a sanctuary called The Fund for Animals, which described the animal practices surrounding factory farming, and animal abuse/neglect in general.
This was something I had never thought about. Animals weren’t talked about in my household when I was growing up, nor was eating healthily. After reading the literature that arrived, that very day I went vegetarian and a few years later, vegan. This dramatic shift in eating habits led to questioning my overall lifestyle. From what I was wearing, to the companies I was supporting, to the realisation that it’s wrong to support any form of animal exploitation. To me, a vegan lifestyle choice is most liberating when an understanding of yourself in relation to other beings in the world takes place.
Of course, one cannot leave out the health benefits that come along with eating plant based foods. Vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, mushrooms, and a long list of other plant based foods assist in helping us maintain maximum health, so why not eat these foods all of the time? We all want to be healthy and feel good, and we can!
Today I am proud to say that I am the founder of seven vegan/kosher restaurants in New York City and one NY-based but national dairy-free chocolate shop called Cocoa V. All of my ventures are rooted in the foundation to empower and educate consumers about their consumption choices. Education, knowledge and awareness are key when it comes to becoming a more consciously aware individual. We released our first book (and one of the only gourmet vegan cookbooks in the market) in April 2017; it is called The Blossom Cookbook and I’ll be coming out with my own very soon!
How did you learn to cook great vegan food?
I learned to cook vegan food by just being a vegan! Omitting animal products was never an issue for me, and only inspired me to seek out ingredients and ways to prepare the foods that I wanted to eat and share with everyone.
I was actually pursuing a career in theatre and opera but my calling to do something for the animals was stronger. I opened my first vegan restaurant in Manhattan in 2005, ‘Blossom Restaurant’; then the vegan quick serve chain, ‘Blossom Du Jour’ in 2010, which now has 4 locations; the vegan comfort food haven ‘Urban Vegan Kitchen’ in 2016; and Cocoa V reopened its doors on Valentine’s Day 2017.
How would you describe your own signature style?
I LOVE making vegan comfort food and replicating flavors and textures that I and so many others grew up accustomed to. My signature dish would be a pot pie.
How did you create the menu at your restaurants?
Each restaurant is different, and is inspired by different things, but they all share the mission to provide vegan food that’s delicious and made with great ingredients.
What do you think is the future of vegan food?
I would have to say that over the past 4 years in particular there has been a tremendous effort made by many people to incorporate vegan food and ethics into their daily lifestyle.
It seems as though everyone knows someone who’s vegan, which is quite thrilling! Veganism is really becoming a movement. Our latest opening, Urban Vegan Kitchen, addresses the shift we see in the vegan movement.
So much of this positive movement is due to the many people who have created and continue to create innovative vegan food and clothing options and those who work tirelessly for animal rights. Animal exploitation and suffering is being brought to the surface in a big way, and thanks to advocates and leaders like Jenny Brown, Nathan Runkel, Gene Bauer, Ingrid Newkirk, James Aspey and so many others, many people are encouraged to try a vegan diet and/or lifestyle.