Aeroplan invited its Diamond members to enjoy a plant-based dinner by David Lee and Chad Sarno, two world-renowned plant-based chefs, at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto on October 11, 2018. Torontonicity was one of the media invited to cover the event – and that’s how I got to attend this exclusive dinner.
I could hardly contain my excitement because I’ve had David Lee’s wonderful creations at Planta, an upscale and plant-based restaurant in downtown Toronto, and knew how good his dishes were. Chad Sarno is a plant-based ambassador and instructor for Rouxbe, the world’s largest online cooking school. Chad has launched multiple courses including the Professional Plant-Based Certification course. Chad is based in Texas so I’ve not had the opportunity to try his cuisine until this evening.
The hors d’oeuvres and cocktails were delectable, the table setting was a dream; I was pretty sure I was going to have one of the best meals of my life.
After a brief discussion about sustainability in food and the upcoming brand of vegan seafood, Good Catch, set to launch later this year, we were introduced to our beautiful first dish. The dish looked so interesting, varied, and artistically put together. Not only was it a feast for the eyes, but also for the taste buds. From soft sauces to crispy bites, the dish was inspirational. What looked like cherries was actually a sauce that complemented other components tastefully.
The soup was smooth and delicious – it was much loved by all. Most of those at my table were coconut lovers, so we admitted that we were quite biased. Even the carnivores were very impressed with the vegan dishes. What came next was a triumph.
The Maitake mushroom, also known as Hen of the Woods, is fruity, earthy and spicy. The texture is succulent and semi-firm. I have never had it before but, apparently, they are easy to grow and can be prepared and cooked easily. The chef in me was piqued by the novel item – I made a mental check to find and cook Maitake. Its meatier texture was very satisfying. The omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans were delighted.
At this point, we were full but still eager to try dessert. I’ve had scrumptious and imaginative desserts at Planta, such as the Chocolate Terrarium and Young Thai Coconut, so I knew I was in for a treat that night.
The dessert presentation was a feast for the eyes. The chilled ice cream paired nicely with the apple pie – a classic combo – with a clever twist of candied corn nuts sprinkled in the dish.
After the dinner, we had the opportunity to engage with David and Chad in conversations about healthy dining, recipes and cooking tips that focus around the importance of agricultural lands and sustainable foods. I was eager to find out where to find Maitake mushrooms and how to process them and Chad was happy to share his knowledge. Maitake mushrooms can be found in Asian markets as they easily grow in North America and can be used in many ways e.g. Maitake are very tasty with pasta. For the Aeroplan dinner, the mushroom cluster was pressed to make the incredibly tasty dish that night. Maitake is quite delicious and has a pleasing texture; it is also used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine.
The evening was a wonderful thank you to Aeroplan Diamond members. I’d love to upgrade my Aeroplan to Diamond status, but I don’t fly enough (yet)! I do love the perks!