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Meet Ayinde Howell: Hot Vegan Chef, Cool Dude
Talented Ayinde Howell has become a transformational vegan chef from coast to coast. A former vegan restaurant owner – at age 20!!! – and executive chef in New York, Ayinde is now a private chef in Los Angeles and the blogger/owner of ieatgrass.com. He envisions vegan cooking as a cuisine in its own right – not merely a cooking style which uses vegetables and grains to imitate fake meats and dairy. He specializes in vegan soul food, raw cuisine, and new American cooking.
Ayinde’s former restaurant – Hillside Quickies Vegan Sandwich Shop – located in his hometown Tacoma, Washington, became a jazzy, rockin’ hotspot for touring musicians and actors. And no wonder! Since Ayinde had been a DJ prior to opening the restaurant, the music at the Sandwich Shop was as satisfying as the food.
The restaurant opened another venue for Ayinde: he became a performer. “Music, acting, and vegan cooking are all important parts of my life,” Ayinde said. “I used to try and separate all of these things but I got to all of them from cooking. Through my restaurant I met artists, actors, poets. I eventually became a performing artist myself and was offered a part in a movie.”
Ayinde continued, “Cooking satisfied one part of my need for creativity and it has always been my anchor. But when I found performing, it was the epitome of creativity. I could get out of myself and be someone else.”
Ieatgrass.com has become another creative outlet, showcasing Ayinde’s own blogs (and those of his staffers), highlighting recipes, and promoting his catering and chef businesses. He has several women bloggers on staff. When asked why, he replied.” My audience is largely women because women seem to really care about healthy living.”
Ayinde has advice for the vegan chef in all of us: “The food has to taste good, have texture, and be healthy. Use whole foods. I avoid ‘meat-like’ products because they are made with soy protein isolates which are not as healthy as whole soybeans,” he said.
For vegans who want to cook without onions and garlic, Ayinde offered some substitutes: “Thyme and rosemary make a savory base so do basil and sage. But we need to add in something acidic like lemon, lime, or vinegar to give the spices another layer of flavor.”
Thank you, Ayinde, for adding some cool soul to the vegan repertoire. We can’t wait to see what you’ll cook up next!