We’ve all grown up hearing the familiar refrain: Eat your vegetables. On October 1, veggie lovers will celebrate that phrase with vigor in honor of World Vegetarian Day. The kickoff to Vegetarian Awareness Month, this day highlights the benefits of the diet, which range from lower levels of obesity to a reduced risk of heart disease, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
While some may dismiss vegetarian cuisine as boring, the chefs at Darbster in West Palm Beach know that veggies, in the right hands, can yield fantastic culinary results. As one of Palm Beach County’s go-to vegan restaurants, Darbster is famous for reimagining meaty comfort foods for plant-loving patrons.
“That’s a great thing to convert things that people really enjoy into a healthier version,” says Gail Patak, Darbster’s executive chef. PBI recently challenged Patak and her colleague, Robert Schrotenboer, to create a dish that encapsulated the best of vegetarian cooking. The duo responded with not one dish, but a five-course meal—including a vegan dessert.
As the restaurant’s executive raw chef, Schrotenboer highlighted local produce in a mango-lavender soup, a refreshing prelude to his take on a ceviche composed of oyster mushrooms, avocado, pepper, and sunflower sprouts.
Patak followed with her spin on the niçoise salad, which featured all the classic ingredients but traded tuna for roasted peppers. Afterward, she served pan-seared, pistachio-crusted tofu alongside soba noodles tossed in sesame oil, sriracha, orange juice, and ginger.
Pistachio-crusted tofu with soba noodles.
A former baker, Patak whipped up a vegan hummingbird cake, forgoing dairy and eggs in favor of vegan butter and soaked flaxseeds. You’d never know the difference.
Vegan hummingbird cake.