Rachel Finest’s culinary dream is to personal a vegetable-centric restaurant, one the place tofu and tempeh are left off the menu and—slightly than meatless riffs or faux-meat replications—dishes function alternatives to showcase produce in all its glory. Each different month, Finest briefly will get to expertise that ultimate, internet hosting vegan dinners at her Fulton Hill restaurant, Blue Atlas, which she co-owns and operates along with her husband, Ben Watters.
The inaugural dinner attracted 60 diners, and most not too long ago, triple that quantity.
“It books out prematurely, in order that’s positively a motivation,” Finest says of the rising success of the soirees. “That is my ardour of cooking.”
Initially conceived as a method for Finest to frolic within the kitchen with recent veggies, the occasion has advanced right into a sellout big day attracting diners seeking to take a stroll on the plant-based facet. It has additionally began to draw the eye of fellow cooks. On Jan. 25 and 26, Finest might be joined within the kitchen by Xavier Beverly, R&D chef at Carytown market Ellwood Thompson’s, for a two-day Vegan Takeover.
Via a collection of shareable small plates, the duo plan to take diners on a world journey. Dishes, supplied a la carte, will vary from $10 to $14, and company are inspired to order all the menu.
“We wish you to suppose exterior of the field of what veganism is,” says Beverly, a Richmond native who has labored in native kitchens together with The Camel and the bygone Zeus Gallery Cafe. “Let’s make folks broaden their horizon. Usually, once I exit to eat, that is what I am making an attempt to do, get pleasure from one thing I am not going to cook dinner at residence.”
Though the January occasion marks the primary time Finest will collaborate with a fellow chef on this pursuit, it’s not the primary time that she and Beverly have labored collectively — the pair share the same natural, non-GMO and pro-local stint on their resumes: a gig at Ellwood Thompson’s.
“Rachel was the one that skilled me, she was the one who interviewed me,” remembers Beverly, who has been with the marketplace for the previous two years.
Leaving his position as chef at The Camel simply as he turned a father, Beverly says that on his seek for extra profession stability, he heard of a gap at Ellwood Thompson’s. On the identical time, Finest was on her method out on the market and making ready to enter a brand new chapter as restaurateur. Whereas their overlap on the retailer was solely two months, Beverly remembers it effectively.
“I discovered a tone from her,” he says. “I might say, earlier than I acquired to Ellwood’s, vegan cooking was one thing I knew about, and used to do for myself once I was a vegan, however to not this extent.”
Menu planning for the upcoming collaborative dinner remains to be within the works, however the two cooks share an understanding that the aim is to attract from their veg-forward, barely eccentric culinary vault. Finest has been training the plant-based way of life for over 15 years and possesses a deep understanding of vegan cooking. Earlier than relocating to Richmond, she cooked at a devoted vegan/vegetarian restaurant in Denver. And whereas Southern-tinged fare, fried meals and black bean burgers have develop into simple and approachable options to meat, the 2 are straying from the apparent.
“We’re going alongside the road of what we follow [at Blue Atlas], the worldwide vibe and slightly cleaner consuming. … We’re making an attempt to focus on you may have meals with out that stuff,” Finest says.
Beverly provides that he plans to make use of the expertise as a chance so as to add extra layers to his culinary repertoire and transfer past the traditional constraints of cooking; He is additionally wanting ahead to working in a collaborative atmosphere.
There may be “positively a way to the insanity [at Ellwood’s]and [we] have to remain on a sure path [with cooking], so having the ability to work with one other chef I actually respect makes me actually glad,” Beverly says. “I am excited to mess around with concepts and ideas and dishes I had once I traveled to Israel and a pair different locations and hone in on good meals.”
Reservations for the occasion may be secured on-line with a $10 deposit.