Meatless Mondays are kicking off on November 6 in the city at Basement on Market. They're being spearheaded by Basement's star chef Leron ‘Hugo’ Ben Avraham.
We interviewed Hugo for the blog to chat about his passion for plant based food and food influences. He learned to cook from his restauranteur father in Israel, with a strong focus on local produce, and added to his Middle Eastern cooking knowledge while touring the world and cooking.
So many cultures around the world celebrate vegan dishes as their staple foods, and for religious and ceremonial reasons. How have you found the attitudes towards meat-free eating in Australia?
Exactly right. Israeli food is a great example, our staple food is falafels and hummus!
The number of vegans in Australia seems to be growing every day. It's not as hard to be a vegan today as it was 5 years ago. There are many vegan-friendly restaurants popping up, and the variety is much larger. People seem to be more willing to try a plant-based diet, even if that means only eating meat occasionally. This is what we’re trying to encourage with Meat Free Mondays, to illustrate just how delicious vegan food can be!
What are your favourite vegetables to cook with?
That’s like choosing between children!
I love broccoli, Spanish onion, cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado.
Are there are there any other chefs you turn to for inspiration with plant-based cooking? If so who are they and how do they influence your cooking?
Ariel Rozental is a chef I admire - he does the best street-food in Israel.
If you're eating vegan at home, what's on the table?
A nice big stir fry, with toasted soy linseed bread, and spicy lemony guacamole
Vegan celebrities Miley Cyrus, Venus Williams, Ellen Page, Woody Harrelson, Moby and Joan Jett rock up at your door for a dinner party. What's on the menu?
I would make them the perfect pita pocket, our famous Israeli street food, with falafel, hummus, pickled mango, tahini, pickled chillies and crispy eggplant! Bon Apetite!
Your menu at Basement draws inspiration from all around the world. What cuisines have influenced your cooking the most outside of your own background?
Italian and Japanese
Which cuisines do you find are particularly great for plant-based recipes and flavours?
What do you hope to show Newcastle with your Meat-Free Mondays?
Meat Free Mondays will showcase plant-based cooking, and the variety of flavour it has to offer. We will be bringing meat eaters and vegans to the same table to eat together - and they will both be satisfied! It’s not about making good substitute meals to meat. Meat Free Mondays showcases vegan cooking as an emerging cuisine, one which can stand alone.
Check out Basement's Facebook page for all the info you need to book a ticket at the next Meat Free Monday!