Veganism has moved from a trend to culinary concept that’s here to stay. Some people are drawn to veganism for ethical reasons. Others follow the practice – in part, at least – for the health benefits of a plant-based diet. In any case, adapting your menu to include vegan alternatives isn’t an option for restaurateurs.
But before you start brainstorming new dishes and new menu concepts, you’ll need to know about the tools needed to run a vegan-friendly kitchen. While vegan cuisine is grounded in common culinary techniques, there are certain tools, gadgets and devices that will make cooking vegan style simpler.
Here’s what you need to know.
You’ll need a sharp, high-quality knife for chopping, slicing and cutting. Avoid heavy duty gear like meat knives or filleting knives. Start with a reliable chef’s knife, a serrated bread knife and a paring knife.
Food prep will be speedier with high-quality scrubbers and peelers for fruits and vegetables. There are specialised cutters for avocados, to accelerate the process of making guacamole and avocado toast (don’t forget millennials, either). For ladles, spatulas, and spoons, avoid plastic and go with wood or stainless steel.
A well-equipped vegan kitchen comes needs at least two blenders: a regular full-size blender and an immersion blender.
A full-size blender has variable speeds and will turn grate, blend, or emulsify ingredients to create soups and creams, as well as vegan specialities like dairy substitutes, cashew cheeses, pasta sauces and salad dressings. Full-sized blenders are ideals for smoothies. It’s a cliché, but it’s a rare vegan restaurant that doesn’t serve smoothies.
An immersion blender, also known as a hand blender or a stick blender, is used to make purees and creamy soups – or even a vegan mayo.
Although expensive, a food processor with an extra set of blades is an essential investment. You’ll save time on chopping and grating by running your ingredients through this tool. Food processors also have the power to make quick work of tough raw ingredients like soaked cashews. You can even create almond butter, dough, pesto and hummus in your kitchen – no need to go to suppliers.
A dehydrator takes the water from food while keeping its enzymes and nutrients. It’s required if you’re planning to add appetizers with a creative use of vegetables. If you’re serving alcohol, a dehydrator is ideal for making cocktail garnishes like lime slices, orange segments or dried spices.
Cross-contamination is a food-handling issue for any restaurant. Since vegan cuisine relies heavily on nuts, especially for desserts, nut-free prep surfaces, plates and equipment are crucial.
While there are no vegan-specific kitchen utensils and equipment, preparing vegan cuisine will be easier if you have the right tools.