From-scratch vegan meats and cheeses are the latest achievements in #ourplantbasedjourney
Fat dabs of mozzarella were sandwiched between tomatoes and basil leaves on a plate heaped high with caprese salad. Across the table, a grill tray held juicy slices of smoked brisket in barbecue sauce. But like all of the other “meats” and “cheeses” piled on the table at Rice University’s West Servery for a taste test last week, both the mozzarella and brisket were entirely plant-based.
Roger Elkhouri and Johnny Curet debuting the West Servery’s new line-up of plant-based meats and cheeses. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)
The meals served to Rice students out of the campus’s six kitchens and serveries consistently rank among the best in the nation each year. But Roger Elkhouri, senior executive chef of the West Servery, wanted to set a new bar by making meat-and-dairy-free lunch meat, cheese and sausage — even barbecue.
The resulting plant-based charcuterie program, which debuted this semester, is the first of its kind in the nation, said Director of Campus Dining Johnny Curet. “I’ve never seen anything like it, ever.”
Action stations in the West Servery, where the charcuterie is incorporated into a dish and served hot off the line, will encourage even more interaction with the students. “That’s key,” Curet said, who said the action station aspect of the program is also unique among Rice’s college dining peers.
“For people who aren’t normally plant-based eaters, we can say, ‘Hey, do you like Reubens? We’ve got the marble rye, the kraut, but also the corned beef and Russian dressing.’” Having a plant-based option, said Curet, means everyone can enjoy it.
“A plant-based diet is a very good, healthy option,” said Elkhouri, whose recipes took a year’s worth of work to perfect. He prefers the inclusive term “plant-based” to the more exclusive label “ …