November marks World Vegan Month and to celebrate, team Foodism have been out and about snooping in the kitchens of our favourite vegan restaurants in London so that you nosey lot can have a sneak peek, too.
Our Plant-Based Plates series is a celebration of all the best vegan spots in the City; of the the restaurants, cafes and eateries going that extra mile to make plants really, really sexy, whether that's in the form of shakes, burgers, tempeh-topped salads or indulgent-as-you-like cupcakes.
For our third shoot, we joined vegan chef, author and YouTuber Rachel Ama at By Chloe. in Oxford Circus for a whizz around her brand-new menu collaboration.
Just up the road from Oxford Circus tube station, By Chloe. is best known for vegan fast food 'so good customers had no idea it was vegan.' They serve taco tempeh salad bowls, tofu 'fish' and chips and quinoa hash browns. This month, Rachel has added three of her own recipes to the line-up, a Thai green curry, veg-packed rainbow wrap and, the real star of the show, BBQ jerk cauliflower bites so more-ish you can't help but eat them whole.
Keen to hear more from Rachel about her inspiration behind the dishes and how the collaboration with the independent vegan fast food chain came to be? Simply read our interview or watch the video above for more (and to get seriously hungry, seriously soon).
Behind the scenes with Rachel Ama at her By Chloe. menu collaboration
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Rachel Ama and I make really epic, delicious vegan foods. I've recently had a cookbook out called Rachel Ama's Vegan Eats, which is full of more than 100 recipes. I mix and blend, I've got Caribbean, West African and Welsh roots and I put that into the book as this combinations of cuisines is full of flavour and my favourite way to cook. Now, I've got food in By Chloe. On the menu is one of my favourite recipes, my BBQ jerk marinade, which I make with crispy jerk cauliflower. It's delicious! I also made a Caribbean veg wrap, and, because it's winter, I wanted to do something wintery, so I made a Thai green curry, which is just so hearty, yet full of superfoods. It's exactly the kind of food that you want to be eating in winter.
I mean, I'm sold. Tell us about how your collaboration with By Chloe. came to be?
By Chloe. reached out to me as they were interested in collaborating and getting some food on the menu. So I went and brainstormed and worked with them on what they felt would best suit their restaurant and what was true to the way I like to cook and the flavours I like to bring together. We bought these three dishes together and voilà!
Did you get your recipes from your book or did you develop them exclusively for By Chloe.?
I think we worked together for about a month to recipe test and put it together. With the food and the recipe ideas for development, the BBQ jerk marinade was something I make all the time – it was already an established recipe. So it was combining existing ideas with new. I'd made the crispy cauliflower before with different sauces so it felt like a no-brainer to put the two together and make something delicious. The Thai green curry is in my book as well. I went for recipes that I'd played with before that would work for By Chloe.
Describe your style of cooking in three words.
Big on flavour, banging and soulful.
You get the best inspiration from around the world and from exploring different cultures, cuisines and spice mixes
You say you've got lots of different cooking influences throughout your book. Why did you think it was important to bring this to the UK when you released your book?
My inspiration for how I like to cook and how I like to bring flavours together is because I have different backgrounds. My Welsh grandma's house was a very different house to my St. Lucian grandma's house in all the best ways. I got to experience so much, and I've travelled a lot, fortunately. My favourite way to eat food is to eat flavourful food. You get the best inspiration from around the world and from exploring different cultures, cuisines and spice mixes. I felt like we didn't see that as much in the vegan food showcased in mainstream media, so it was great to be able to showcase this and bring it to the table.
What's your favourite dish of your three dishes on the By Chloe. menu?
The barbecue jerk cauliflower. I think everyone's favourite dish is the barbecue jerk cauliflower. People can be so surprised about cauliflower. You look at it and think it looks a bit boring, and sometimes it doesn't have much flavour. But if you cook it right so it's not soggy and has a bit of a bite, and then coat it in a batter that's full of flavour, and then you add that batter that's oven-baked so it's a bit crispy or deep-fried, and then you throw it in a barbecue jerk sauce. That's happiness.
How important do you feel that collaboration is within the vegan community?
I think it's amazing to be able to share food I love on my platforms, on YouTube, on Instagram, and then have big players like By Chloe. who are all across America and have come to the UK. Them wanting to work with me is one of those pinch-me moments. It's amazing to be able to collab together and for them to see value in the food I do and bring it to the forefront of people's attention.