The menu included homemade guacamole, hummus, tacos, burritos, barbeque chickpea sliders, herbed roasted potatoes and buffalo cauliflower bites. The “No Meat & Greet” event was a preview to his “Fruits of our Labor” event on May 27. Each dish left everyone eagerly anticipating the next.
Chef Wierdo answered questions from the group about his start as a chef and how to choose safe vegan foods and ingredients.
How did you get the name “Chef Wierdo”?
When I started cooking as a young kid I did things like add cheerios in my pancakes. I often experimented with untraditional recipes that many might consider “weird” and that’s how my name came about. For added emphasis on my uniqueness, “Wierdo” is purposely spelled incorrectly.
How long have you been a cook?
I started at age 10. I’m the oldest of three and my mom was a single mom who often had to work. I took pleasure in reinventing famous instant meals like Hamburger Helper and Tombstone Frozen Pizza for me and my brothers – making the dishes my own by adding out-of-the-box toppings and special sauces.
How did you become interested in the vegan lifestyle?
It started when I decided to go on a raw food diet for one week. I felt great and realized that going vegan or vegetarian wasn’t that hard. But the big shift came when I reintroduced meat back into my diet and got sick. That’s when I realized I shouldn’t be eating it.
What difference have you noticed between the New York and Atlanta food scenes?
In the south we’ve been slower to adopt vegan and plant-based diets. Whereas in New York, there can be 20 vegan restaurants within a 5-mile radius. That’s why I have a base in Atlanta. It’s important for me to be here so I can continue exposing people to healthy eating habits. New York provides me with the rigor and competition I need but Atlanta is my family. I want to help make them better.
What can people do to make sure they are consuming healthy vegan foods?
They should check the list of ingredients and if they see anything they don’t recognize – don’t eat it. They should also eat as fresh as possible by purchasing ingredients that are as close to the original food source as possible. For example, buy freshly picked produce instead of produce that has been packed and shipped several times before reaching your grocery store.
Tell us about the upcoming “Fruits of our Labor” tour.
This is the third year of “Fruits of Our Labor” – which kicks off in Brooklyn, New York on May 20 before coming to Atlanta on May 27. The food will be prepared by me and New York-based Chef India. It’s a big brunch and pop up art show and guests should look forward to original fruit inspired art, bottomless mimosas and a delicious Sunday Brunch Buffet
Purchase tickets and learn more about the tour on the Fruits of Our Labor site.