Chef Chat, Part 2: Pat Greer's Raw Vegan Kitchen
Yesterday we chatted with the lively raw vegan chef Patricia Greer. Today we discuss some of the items she makes - some even carnivores will enjoy.
Pat Greer and her assistant Ray in the kitchen.
EOW: Here in Houston, you definitely have a niche market, which might be more difficult than other cities, like Austin. Why Houston and not somewhere else?
PG: My family's here; we moved to Houston from Dallas 30 years ago. I love Houston, I think Houston is just great. You know, Houston has this bad rap, that it's all oil and cattle and the nouveau riche, and just not accepting of new theories, and I just disagree. Dallas and Austin, go for it. I'm glad they're doing what they're doing, and I'm glad it's filtering over here. I think we're a lot more progressive here than we give ourselves credit for. It's just misunderstood (raw vegan food) here because stuff will come out about it being not as healthy as it says, and that will make people weary. The first ingredient on all of our crackers, meals, and desserts is love. That's important. Whenever you touch food, whatever you're feeling is going to go into it.
EOW: Do you have a steady crowd of regulars?
PG: Yeah, we're not selling a mainstream item. People are intrigued by it, and want to look into it a little bit, and we've got some really loyal people here. We've been serving some people for ten years, since before we bought this building.
EOW: How do you bring in customers that might not normally try your food?
PG: We learned really early when I got on my raw food high horse that self-righteous just doesn't work. I want people to have as much energy as I have. You say the words "vegan" and "vegetarian," and then you say "raw," and they react and say "I don't know, it's a little scary." It makes people very weary, so we just learn to really talk to people about eating more vegetables. Mom always said, "Eat more vegetables," and we really push that.
EOW: You must be pretty creative with your sauces and dressings. What kind of ingredients do you use?
PG: One of our most popular is called our Asian Fusion dressing. It has lime juice, agave nectar, sesame oil, olive oil, garlic and that's it. And in our Dijondaise sauce, we do use a processed ingredient, we use a dijon mustard with cashews, lemon juice, water and some herbs. The cashews in it give the creamy texture. And do one we call our Alive dressing, and we do that with our Kombucha, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, basil, and garlic... it's really zesty.EOW: How many different Kombuchas do you make?
PG: I have four basic ones, and from there we make 6-10 different flavors. We have Apple Ginger, Yahoo Yerba, Fruit Punch and a few more. We have been making it for about a year and a half. I started making it for myself because I was spending a fortune on the ones at the store. Like I said, I'm kind of excessive, so I started making it and then selling it.
EOW: If a skeptical meat-eater were to come in here, what is one thing you make that they would love?
PG: The Pizza Bella. It seems to get them every time. It's made with a portobello mushroom and Jeez (like cheese) made from sunflower seeds, cashews, herbs and spices. Then we add marinara sauce, fresh vegetables, kalamata olives and a tahini sauce on top. So it's got a real hearty texture. And that seems to get 'em. The other thing we have is our lasagna with Neat, made from local pecans, sunflower seeds, onions and garlic, and it kind of has the texture of hamburger meat because that's what people miss a lot of times when they start eating a lot of vegetables.
EOW: What kind of health advice can you give to vegetarian-friendly/ vegan-friendly people that don't necessarily want to take the plunge into a full raw food diet?
PG: Listening to your body is huge. I think our bodies talk to us all the time, and I encourage people to look for as many alternative sources as they can for protein and iron, and every kind of nutrient that they need. It's easy to get proteins from a lot of sources, I think looking into that is certainly worthy.