Photo of Rachel Ama against a brick wall with the "Happy World Vegan Month" written in green script.

Rachel Ama Brings the Heat!

Print this recipe!
Q+A W/ Vegan Chef, Rachel Ama

Hello and happy November! If you’re reading this then World Vegan Month is in full swing. For the entire month, plant-based eaters get to rejoice in the name of all things vegan. Here at by CHLOE., World Vegan Month is really every month! But, we love any excuse to celebrate plants, so we are turning all of November into a plant-based party. We encourage you to try out new recipes, grab a vegan meal at by CHLOE., and share with the world what being vegan means to you! 

In honor of World Vegan Month, we partnered with vegan chef Rachel Ama to create three new, delicious recipes inspired by Caribbean and Thai flavors. Rachel is bringing the heat to by CHLOE.’s UK locations with Thai Green Curry, Caribbean Mushroom Wrap, and BBQ Jerk Cauliflower. Rachel is a perfect partner for us, as she also uses plant-based ingredients to create crave-able comfort foods with a twist. Her creativity in the kitchen stems from her Caribbean, African and Welsh roots. When Rachel is not cooking delicious vegan eats, she can often be found dancing and singing along to Lizzo in her kitchen and writing award-winning cookbooks.

Stop by any by CHLOE. London location to try these new delish dishes, or order online now!

 

by CHLOE.: Hi Rachel! Thanks for chatting with us. Please introduce yourself.

Rachel Ama: My names is Rachel and I grew up in North London. I’ve been vegan for about four years now and just released my first cookbook Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats.

 

bC: We are so excited to partner with you to create three new dishes for the by CHLOE. menu! Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind each dish?

RA: I’ve grown up in London and have Caribbean, African and Welsh roots. I’ve always been surrounded by different cultures and incredible food from around the world and that always inspires my cooking. I’ve gone for two Caribbean inspired recipes, as Caribbean food is my favorite, plus a Thai recipe which is my other favorite.

 

bC: Tell us how it all began! What, or who, inspired you to become a chef?

RA: I travelled around South America, then road-tripped the States for six months which created a whole new love for food and cooking as soon as I got back home. Then shortly after I went vegan. I wanted to enjoy all the incredible food I’ve been eating but without meat, fish and dairy, and from there I just kept experimenting and my love of food grew and grew.

 

bC: Talk to us about your plant-based journey. What inspired you to adopt a vegan lifestyle? What were some of the challenges along the way? 

RA: I cut out dairy around eight years ago which was a lot harder to do back then, as there were so few replacements compared to now. But, as soon as I saw how meat and fish ended up on my plate, I went vegan the next day. I’ve always loved animals and had pets, I just hadn’t made the association before between the meat I ate, and the animals I called pets until I saw the real journey and it broke my heart. The challenges for me were always social. I didn’t grow up with any vegan or vegetarian friends, so being vegan made birthday dinners, gatherings and so on a little bit awkward – trying to find a vegan option or explaining why I didn’t want to eat the meat. I just eat before I go out now, or make something to bring – eating out as a vegan is a lot easier now. 

 

bC: What encouraging words or advice do you have for someone who is thinking of going vegan, or trying it for World Vegan Month?

RA: There are so many positive reasons to give it a go, and it is really delicious! You’ve just got to find your new go-to meals which is great because there are so many vegan recipes out there, I share them weekly on my YouTube channel, which you can try out with simple ingredients you can get at the supermarket. Don’t be hard on yourself, take it step by step if that suits. If you love chili, try a vegan one! My one won’t make you think you’re missing out on meat. Or if you have a favorite curry, use the same seasonings  and swap the meat for chickpeas and vegetables and it will still taste delicious!

 

bC: What are your top five kitchen essentials for anyone looking to create more plant-based meals at home?

RA:

1. High-speed blender for smoothies, sauces, pastes, plant-based milks.

2. A good knife for chopping vegetables.

3. A great vegan cookbook.

4. Roasting trays, especially for colder months.

5. Big saucepans to make bulk stews and curries which you can meal prep with throughout the week.

 

bC: Conversations about plant-based eating have become widespread over the past few years. Why do you think people are now interested in incorporating more plant-based foods into their diets?

RA: Because we’re in a digital age where we can access information so quickly and easily. I wasn’t shown slaughterhouses in school, I lived in a city, which is far removed from farming and was shown a “healthy food chart” of meat, fish and dairy. The chicken I would buy had a happy chicken on the label whereas now, there are academic studies telling us that one of the best ways we can help our planet is to adopt a vegan diet. There are academic books and documentaries where we are shown how plant-based diets can improve our health, which is giving people a more informed choice.

 

bC: What food trends do you see emerging in 2020?

RA: Vegan food in general. I know there’s been interest in a lot of tropical foods, especially ones I see back in the Caribbean, like jackfruit and hearts of palm. But I think we need to focus on seasonal cooking. Buying fresh plant-based produce from local farmers, it’s how we lived years ago, it aligns to our bodies natural seasonal rhythm and is far more sustainable.

 

bC: Your first cookbook Vegan Eats just won Best Vegan Cookbook. Congratulations! What can we expect to find in the book? What does the win mean to you?

RA: Thank you. Lots of flavor and over 100 recipes! There are really simple ones you can make in batch for quick weekday dinners, from chillies, curries, peanut fried rice, ratatouille and so on. There are Caribbean recipes, plus my personal favorite, African peanut stew. There’s a few feasts that take a little longer to cook but are so worth it, and are great for having friends over and really deliver on flavor – like the grilled aubergine kebabs. I put so much into this book, from adding the music I love, fabrics my Mum brought back from her last trip to Sierra Leone (where her Dad is from), plus recipes inspired by my Grandma Pat from St Lucia who was the most amazing cook! All in the hope of making a really fun, delicious, flavorful cookbook.

 

bC: If you could cook for anyone in the world who would it be, and what would you make?

RA: Probably the Smith family. I feel like Will Smith has been my Uncle my whole life – he just doesn’t know it yet. I grew up in a funny home and would love to make them a vegan Caribbean feast and joke over the dinner table. Some plantain, channa, jerk oyster mushrooms, roti, even dumplings, my fritters, callaloo. All of it!

 

bC: Why did you decide to collaborate with by CHLOE.? What excites you about our brand? 

RA: I love that by CHLOE. has opened multiple stores in London, making eating vegan so much more accessible to people, and was so excited to collaborate with them on some of my recipes.

 

RAPID FIRE

Personal mantra? If you want to do something, make it happen.

Three items you can’t live without? Chia seeds, chocolate, curag.

Spirit animal? Not an animal but, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Early bird or night owl? Night owl.

Favourite place on Earth? Colombia.

Go-to songs? Lose Yourself” by Eminem, “Teenage Dirt Bag” by Wheatus, “If You Love Me” by Brownstone, “Here Comes the Hotsepper” by Ini Kamoze.

Biggest pet peeve? When people say, “if you’re vegan why do you eat things that look like meat – just eat meat.”

Secret superpower? Laughter.