Thanks to the foodie revolution of the past decades, consumers these days have far less difficulty finding inventive, meat-free dishes. Philly’s Rich Landau, owner of Vedge, is the extreme example. His restaurant’s menu has featured more than two thousand daily specials on its famous Dirt List since opening in 2011. Interestingly, though, it’s a carnivore’s heart that guides Landau’s cooking.
Despite being a longtime vegan, Landau was born and raised in meat-loving Philly, and he says that familiarity with flesh has permanently influenced his taste. “The problem was, I already had a carnivore’s palate, so I had to learn how to keep that palate entertained.” As a result, his vegetables are treated to all manner of carnal flavors. “People say you can’t have pastrami now, but why not? Pastrami is not about the meat; it’s about the spice. We’re taking this stuff back.”
Landau and wife Kate Jacoby (the restaurant’s sommelier, cocktail mixologist, and pastry chef) collaborated on the recently released cookbook that is a guide to this vision, ‘Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking.’ Landau recently took the time to dish on a few of his favorite recipes and offered us tips on how he gets such big, nostalgic flavors from veggies in the land of the cheesesteak.