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March 2018 Digital Issue

FOOD FILE “Even the

FOOD FILE “Even the things that aren’t meant to be vegan can be made vegan” Did you know? Did you know New York Fries’ Classic Poutine is actually vegetarian? Both the gravy and cheese curds are completely vegetarian — no meat or animal bi-products. Vancouverbased Grains specializes in GMO-free, fully traceable legumes Poyo customers to come in. They wanted food faster and they wanted to be able to tailor it to suit their needs.” The duo changed some of The Sprout’s existing menu items, such as the popular Pad Thai ($13.48), and tried to make the menu more vegan-friendly “so even the things that aren’t meant to be vegan can be made vegan.” Originally, The Sprout was considered a higher-end option in St. John’s and many diners frequented it because they had food allergies and considered it a safe place to eat. Mysyk and Dunne have transformed the space into something that caters to everyone — whether celiac, vegan or omnivorous. “Not many of our customers are actually vegetarian — a lot of them were willing to try our food because…what else were they going to do at 2 a.m.? There were very few other options when we first started,” says Mysyk. Pushing the limits This is a recurring theme among plant-based establishments in Canada. The Acorn restaurant in Vancouver has been catering to a diverse crowd of diners — vegetarians, vegans and meat-lovers — since it opened in 2012. For owner Shira Blustein, The Acorn was born from the lack of quality vegetarian restaurants in the area. Once opened, the food and overall experience quickly caught the eyes of critics and, as a result, The Acorn was listed among EnRoute Magazine’s Best New Restaurants in 2013 — the first time a vegetarian restaurant has been featured on the list. “It was never about ‘being vegetarian,’ it was about creating a restaurant that didn’t present as vegetarian. That was the goal. We just wanted beautiful food that happened to be plant-based — our target market is everybody,” says Blustein, whose hyper-seasonal menu attracts a very diverse crowed. “Since our chef (Brian Luptak) and sous chef (Devon Latte) have come on board, the way they’ve embraced seasonality and developed wellcrafted ingredients while still running with our original concept has been next level — they push the limits each and every day.” The most popular dish is the beer-battered Halloumi with potato-zucchini latkes, mushy peas and mint yogurt ($21). “Our food is tasty first and healthy second because of our ingredients,” she explains. “We always have vegan and gluten-free options. Our menu changes constantly because we’re always getting great new seasonal ingredients to work with.” Following the success of The Acorn, Blustein opened a casual eatery in 2017 called The Arbor. The food is plant-based, but with take-out options (such as the southern-fried artichoke sandwich, $13) as well as tables for sit-down meals. “We’re making the grab-andgo equivalent to The Acorn, which has become more of a special-occasion spot. Every pickle, every piece of bread — everything is familiar, recognizable food made from scratch by us.” In response to operator demand for healthy, ready-to-eat foods, Del Monte Fresh Produce has recently introduced a new range of spiralized vegetables (called Del Monte Vegetable Noodles) as an alternative to highcarbohydrate foods. Dionysios Christou, vicepresident of Marketing at Del Monte Fresh Produce, believes as busy Canadian consumers adapt to a healthier lifestyle, sales in fresh produce and healthy, grab-and-go snacks will surge. Meanwhile, ambient food businesses can take advantage of consumers’ growing concerns over genetically modified ingredients in their foods. Grain is a Vancouver-based company specializing in GMO-free, fully traceable > Vegetarian taco from The Sprout Café in St. John’s 16 FOODSERVICE AND HOSPITALITY MARCH 2018 FOODSERVICEANDHOSPITALITY.COM

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