Local author takes vegan message to the masses

Mitchell Byars | Boulder Weekly


Leave it to a Boulder resident to try to bring vegan into vogue.

Mark Reinfeld, an award-winning chef and author, will be hosting a two-day vegan cooking workshop Nov. 6 and 7 in Boulder as part of his nationwide tour to promote vegan cuisine.


Just in time for the upcoming holiday season, the courses will focus on a festive menu of 15 different vegan fusion dishes, ranging from Brussels sprouts hollandaise to raw pecan pie. In addition to teaching participants the recipes, Reinfeld says the workshops are great for people who want to learn some of the ins and outs of working with vegan ingredients.

“We will be going over all of the basics of vegan world fusion cuisine,” Reinfeld says. “It’s for all skill levels, from people who are new to cooking and want to learn some recipes and build some confidence to more experienced cooks who are unfamiliar with vegan ingredients.”

Reinfeld himself is plenty familiar with vegan ingredients. While he grew up on what he called the “standard American diet,” he became a vegetarian 20 years ago and has been working on vegan recipes for 15 years. Some people might think that eliminating animal products might restrict the things you can cook, but Reinfeld says that the move to vegan cuisine has actually allowed him greater freedom in his cooking.

“It really opens up a whole range of ingredients that you would not venture into unless you are not eating meat,” Reinfeld says. “I start experimenting, making different sauces and dishes. It inspires me to get creative.”

In 2002, while he was living on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, he opened up a vegan fusion restaurant called The Blossoming Lotus along with fellow author and chef Jennifer Murray. The Blossoming Lotus quickly became popular with the locals, and it won the Ilima Award for Best Kauai Restaurant in 2006. That same year Reinfeld was named the 2006 Platinum Carrot Award, a national award given by the Aspen Center for Integral Health to the top healthy gourmet chefs in America. In 2009, after the owner of the restaurant moved back to the mainland, Reinfeld moved the restaurant to Portland, Ore., where it is today.

In addition to his work as a chef, Reinfeld is the author of four recipe books on vegan cuisine. His latest book, The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East, which he co-authored with Murray, contains 150 Asian-inspired vegan recipes, from noodles to desserts. Every recipe in the book is vegan and takes under 30 minutes of labor time to make. The book, which came out in July, is the second in Reinfeld’s 30 Minute Vegan series. His first book in the series, The 30 Minute Vegan, won several awards, including Cook Book of the Year from VegNews and Best New Cook Book from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Reinfeld says that the series is meant to help everyone prepare vegan meals, regardless of how experienced they are with vegan cooking or ingredients. The 30 Minute Vegan’s Guide to the East includes a guide to buying ingredients key to creating Asian vegan fusion cuisine as well as tips and tricks on cooking vegan dishes. The book is split into five different sections: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and a Fusion section that features a collection of recipes from other Asian countries like Korea and Vietnam, as well as central Asian areas like Iran and Uzbekistan. Reinfeld says that his time living and working at the Blossoming Lotus in Hawaii, a state where there is a heavy Asian cuisine influence, was one of the inspirations for the book.

“Asian cuisine is one of our favorite ethnic cuisines, and I really wanted to do a book on it,” Reinfeld says.

Reinfeld says his next book in the 30 Minute Vegan series will focus on European cooking. In the meantime, he will be continuing his nationwide series of workshops as he tries to spread the gospel of cooking and eating healthy.

“A lot of people eat things without realizing it’s vegetarian or vegan,” he says. “It’s losing a lot of the stigma it once had. There is a growing interest for health reasons. People are just realizing that it’s healthier to make more dishes with vegetables.”

Reinfeld’s classes are $285 per person. To register, or for more information, call 808-822-0820 or e-mail info@veganfusion.com.

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