When Caroline Concha’s boss asked her to create an all-vegan menu for L.A. restaurant Beelman’s, the chef was initially resistant.
Concha said she asked if the menu really had to be completely plant-based since she hadn’t had experience with a totally vegan menu before. But once she went through with recrafting the menu, which had previously had pub staples like hamburgers and wings, Concha started eating a plant-based diet herself.
“I had to eat it before I could serve it,” Concha explained.
Beelman’s, however, had previously served meat, and the decision to rework the menu into a totally plant-based version caused controversy among some customers.
Concha said it was tough at first, with angry customers complaining about the lack of meat on the menu, but over time, Beelman’s new menu has proven to be a huge success.
“The menu has so much life in it,” Concha said, adding that one of her favorite dishes was the Loco Moco, a versatile fried rice with Impossible meat that can be used as a bowl, in a burrito, or most recently, in a chimichanga.
The menu includes unique takes on bar fare like tater tot nachos (“Tachos”) and a Bahn Dog with sriracha mayo, pickled carrots, and daikon radish.
It also includes the vegan Impossible Burger. It’s topped with plantains, pineapple, shredded kale, and gochujang aioli. As well as a more traditional version with chipotle aioli and spicy ketchup.
Concha said that the quirky menu helped make vegan food a little less intimidating. It may even become appealing to those who wouldn’t have considered eating plant-based foods.
“It’s really about the menu and how you present it,” Concha said.
The initial risk of the menu has clearly paid off, with the menu being so well-received that Concha was voted as Locale Magazine’s best female chef in L.A. this year.
“All of the chefs there were amazing,” Concha said, thanking her family, friends, and satisfied customers at the restaurant for voting for her. “I was blown away.”
Concha said that L.A.’s food scene is “absolutely” becoming more open to plant-based food. Especially as the number of new vegan options opening in recent years.
For example, vegan restaurant Crossroads, which opened in 2013, offers options like vegan chicken and waffles and their own take on the Impossible Burger.
“There are a lot of places in L.A. that now have vegan options even if they’re not a vegan restaurant,” she said.
Concha said that she’s grateful for the success of Beelman’s new menu.
“Seeing how Beelman’s has changed from what it was is a great feeling,” she said.
Looking for more info on plant-based food? Try downloading the Food Monster App, it’s available for both Android and iPhone and has free and paid versions. The app is loaded with thousands of allergy-friendly & vegan recipes/cooking tips, has hundreds of search filters and features like bookmarking, meal plans and more!
Lead Image Source: Caroline Concha / Instagram