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Chef Albert H Chase Jr. and the Institute for Culinary Awakening[TM].

Chef Albert H Chase Jr. found that making the change to veganism for health reasons brought him the most rewarding career he could imagine. As Founder and Culinary Director for the Institute for Culinary Awakening[TM] (ICA), he is able to develop ways to make vegetarian and non-vegetarian food choices into new, plant-based, organic, vegan alternatives. Cooking, his first love, has only been enhanced by his avid interest in organic and locally-grown produce.

Raised in upstate New York, amidst organic and family farms, Chef Al aided his father by working in the family delicatessen. At twelve years old, after witnessing his father have a heart attack, Chef Al began to seriously consider the risk factors associated with his family's diet. In 1985, he became a vegetarian, and within five years, went vegan.

Chef Al graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and worked in New York and Connecticut for several years before moving out to California. It was on the west coast in Seattle that his interest in organic and whole foods was more developed. While working at a catering company that provided some vegetarian options, but was by no means completely plant-based, he attended a lecture by John Robbins, founder of EarthSave and a motivational speaker who emphasizes the environmental, ethical, and healthful aspects of a vegan, peaceful lifestyle. Within two weeks, he gave his notice to the catering outfit and began designing ICA[TM].

ICA[TM], an educational and service-based organization, has six main services: 12-day professional/traditional chef training, consulting/training for food professionals, national half-day workshops, a lecturing service, gourmet catering, and a private chef service.

Chef Al runs 12-day programs for emerging vegetarian/vegan chefs, and he also offers consulting and on-site training for traditional food professionals who want to implement more plant-based cuisine, working one-on-one or in small groups with both types of clients. His goals are to provide his clients with the basics for enhancing their menus at their restaurants, and to increase their awareness of the benefits of using organic produce and whole foods, even in their non-vegan offerings. He recognizes that now is a very opportunistic time for vegan chefs, as there is a high demand for good ones, and these skills will not go to waste.

His workshops, Food for Thought, Tools for Change, are intended for the layperson and cooking enthusiast, and usually take a half-day. They are broken up as follows: the first hour is an overview of setting up and maintaining a healthy kitchen; the second two hours are an actual kitchen demo; a shared meal follows; and the last half-hour is reserved for questions and answers. Chef Al addresses the health and environmental aspects of organic, plant-based cooking, and he emphasizes purchasing locally grown, in-season vegetables and fruits. He attests that he noticed a difference in his own health when he switched from commercial to organic, and he believes that every person's health and dietary choices impact the environment. These workshops are very positively motivated, emphasizing the variety of a vegan kitchen.

Chef Al's gourmet catering service is available for any type of function, anywhere. This services includes menu planning, shopping, cooking, and clean up. He will fly out to your facility to prepare an all-vegan buffet-type meal for up to 500 guests (though he prefers to cook for up to 100, and is perfectly able to prepare an intimate dinner for two, if the occasion presents itself). The private chef service includes menu planning and clean up, and like the catering, is available upon request.

The cuisine he prepares is based on his training at the CIA, where he studied continental French nouvelle and world cuisines. He translates this to what he calls "American Regional Vegetarian Cuisine," though the influences of the types of dishes he has developed are in no way limited by the boundaries of American soil. He often serves Yam and Yellow Split-Pea Falafel with Orange-Mint-Tahini sauce, wheat-free Irish Herb Bread made with hazelnut flour, and a dish he calls Savannah Remembered, which contains chipotle barbecued tempeh stacked between roasted jewel yams.

Chef Al finds that the bigger picture in all of this is not just the positive effects on one's health and the environment, but also a return to the kitchen for food preparation and experiencing the joy of creative expression through food.

Chef Al Chase is Founder and Culinary Director for the Institute of Culinary Awakening[TM], 7 Ave Vista Grande #316, Santa Fe, NM 87505. You can also call (505) 466-4597, e-mail veganchef16@yahoo.com, or check ICA's website <www.ica-plantchefs.com>, for more information.
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Article Details
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Author:Robie, Meri
Publication:Vegetarian Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
Words:767
Previous Article:This Can't Be Tofu!
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