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The Future of Taste

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The Greener Path: Food and Drink for a Plant Based Diet

Sarah Zorn

Dirt Candy's Spinach Millle Feuille, via firstwefeast.com

Dirt Candy's Spinach Millle Feuille, via firstwefeast.com

After decades of having to subsist on salads, side dishes, and uninspired pastas, vegetarians are relishing a golden age of exciting, produce-focused menus at restaurants. And during the Taste Talks Chicago panel, "The Greener Path: Food and Drink for a Plant Based Diet," One Part Plant’s Jessica Murnane will chat with chefs and industry folk at the forefront of the meat-free renaissance, about the brave new world of veggie-forward dining!

What do you think makes the subject of your panel particularly relevant right now?

So many people are really taking a closer look to the food they're eating these days. Whether it's for dietary, environmental, or just straight-up wanting to feel and look better, people care more than ever about having access to clean and green plates of food. And these aren't just people in NYC and LA (Hi, Chicago!) Restaurants and chefs everywhere are having to adapt to the evolving dining habits of their customers.

How has the face of vegetarian cuisine changed in the last five years or so?

You can actually get a vegetarian option at most great restaurants, for starters. It used to be the sad side salad or something that came with roasted red peppers and hummus. Now chefs are really challenging themselves and making dishes that even carnivores can get down with.

What are some specific questions/topics/you hope to explore on your panel?

I'm so lucky to moderate this panel full of bad asses. They all have pretty big opinions and strong voices in their industries. I really want to dig into the pricing of vegetable-focused dining ($10 for a green juice?!), the organic debate, the evolution of the "v" word, and where this healthy eating movement is headed (it hasn't really hit most of the U.S. quite yet). And there will be a few surprise questions and games too. Look out!

What do you think makes each of your panelists uniquely equipped to address the subject at hand?

Again, they're bad asses. Amanda Cohen has been dominating the veg-scene in NYC for years with Dirt Candy. She's pretty vocal about the industry. Anne Owen quit her lucrative career as a magazine publisher in Miami to open Owen & Alchemy, a juice bar in Chicago. Clearly, there's a pretty good story to share here. Heather Crosby's entire life was changed by consuming more plant-based foods and her new book, YumUniverse, is just so impressive. And Chris Pappas has opened one of the most popular restaurants, The Winchester, in Chicago for veg-heads...that isn't even a veggie restaurant. I've got lots of questions for him!

Taste Talks Food & Drink hits Chicago October 3-5, 2014. See the full schedule and buy tickets here.