Last week I attended a Pop Up tasting event hosted by Allen Campbell at the Divine Design Center in the North End with a friend. Allen Campbell, formerly Tom Brady’s chef, offered this as an opportunity to join him along with his team and a dozen or so other guests to sample a tasting menu as well as observe as he prepared some delicious plant based fare. Having heard Allen speak at the Harvard Vegan Food Conference last year, and also after reading the TB 12 Manual he co-authored with Tom Brady, I was more than willing to buy tickets to his pop up event to not just taste his amazing recipes, but also learn more from him on food presentation, preparation and cooking techniques.
Allen was friendly, creative, funny and inspirational. He shared so many helpful tips with us…all while skillfully preparing a 7 course meal without missing a beat. A few takeaways that I brought to my kitchen the next day – how to minimize food prep time by keeping knives sharp via frequent honing, when to use a vitamix vs food processor, how to make date paste, roasting parsnips with coconut oil and cinnamon as a kid-friendly sub for unhealthy french fries, how to make an amazing spinach artichoke dip w/o dairy! The meal was nothing short of amazing. Bel Giardino, a “beautiful garden” of veggies was a favorite, with the unique combination of cabbage alongside purple potato, a sprig of dill and finished with a home made balsamic reduction drizzle and basil infused olive oil. I also very much enjoyed the cinnamon date roll dessert, but vowed its not something I could ever dare replicate after hearing Allen describe the hours he spent turning dates into paste and then a “dough” he rolled out manually – a labor of love he spent hours on! In addition to sharing a healthy and delicious meal, we found the company was great – we mingled and met some wonderful people from the surrounding neighborhoods of all ages who just generally enjoy cooking and are interested in healthy eating – not die hard vegans – could this be a sign that the movement towards plant based is continuing to take shape? In the mean time, looking forward to the next event!