If you’re interested in plant-based cooking in Hamilton then you’ve probably come across chef Fraser Fitzgerald, a.k.a. The Vegan Chef, a.k.a. That Planted Fork. We caught up with him – after doing an earlier interview this past October – to chat about how the food industry is coping with the current situation we’re all in and how he himself has altered his offerings.
According to Fitzgerald, the food industry is one that is among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Your core business evolves around doing something for which people have to show up, to consume your product or service. All of a sudden they can’t do that anymore,” said Fitzgerald.
A lot of local businesses have adapted to the current circumstances. Delivery, takeout, food boxes with local produce; all popular methods nowadays to help you keep exploring (local) food options, while safely staying at home.
Moving classes online
Fitzgerald has had to adapt as well. His core business, before everything changed in March, were his cooking classes. These classes were live, given face-to-face at various locations across the Hamilton area. But with people not allowed to gather in groups and most of his regular locations having to temporarily shut down, this whole practice appeared to come to a halt.
A friend of his had a similar issue, as the owner of movement studio GOODBODYFEEL (145 Main St E). She quickly moved her classes online and inspired Fitzgerald to do the same. That means that today you can log in to Zoom and follow one of his classes from the comfort – and safety – of your own home.
Each class is about 1 to 1.5 hours in length and you pay anywhere between $10 and $30, depending on what you want (and are able) to spend.
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🔥NEW CLASSES FOR JUNE 2020🔥 . . . We are back at it with new online classes for the whole month of June. Starting on Monday June 8th with a Bagel Making Class. Tag all your pals you miss IRL and meet them in a Zoom Classroom! This class covers bagel making, a plant based cream cheese, and a quick fruit jam! ❤️ As always, classes are sliding scale (10-35 dollars) pay what you can afford! The rest of the month is shaping up to look like this: Wednesday June 10 – knife skills. Tuesday June 16 – Kimchi Making. Thursday June 18 – Taco Making. Tuesday June 23 – Pizza Making. Thursday June 25 – BBQ Grilling Lesson. . . All classes are at 6pm EST and you can grab a ticket in the link in my bio 🥰🥰
The way you participate is also up to you. Since recipes are shared in advance, so you can prepare all the ingredients and cook along with the chef, or you can sit back to take notes and tackle the recipe some other time.
Regardless of what you decide to do, one thing is certain: you will likely not get stuck or frustrated, since Fitzgerald’s recipes are always accessible and cost efficient. “You will be able to whip up my recipes on a Tuesday night, while you’re still fielding emails from your boss and helping your kids with their homework,” Fitzgerald tell us.
A new way of learning
Most of us are getting our fair share of screen time nowadays. Between all your conference calls, Netflix sessions, and family video chats, you likely don’t mind taking a break from your screen from time-to-time. Fitzgerald recognized this and came up with another solution to give people the opportunity to experience what vegan cooking has to offer: his new e-cookbook.
“People need to learn how to cook now more than ever”, the chef claims. “Sure, you can order a pizza, but you can also learn how to make your own pizza dough and experiment with that from home. You open for yourself up to curiosity.”
That last point is very much prevalent in Fitzgerald’s cookbook. Sure, there are predefined recipes (50 in total), but you’ll also find a lot about spice mixing and how to build your own favourite flavour combinations. That way you’ll not just learn how to make a few set pieces, but your whole pallet will be expanded, opening many new culinary doors for the reader.
The e-cookbook is now available for $19.95. Of every sale, $2 will go towards a local community organization, starting with Salty General Store’s donation bags for food banks. With the sale of his e-book, Fitzgerald hopes to purchase as many of these donation bags as possible, helping people in need of some assistance.
Curious by nature
In the past few weeks it appears that most people have stepped up their cooking game, or have begun baking things. Flour and instant yeast has been sold out at most grocery stores for weeks now. “It shows that humans are by nature curious and want to learn new things”, Fitzgerald states.
If sourdough bread or banana bread don’t scratch your culinary itch, I highly recommend taking a look at what That Planted Fork has to offer you. Whether you attend his Taco Thursday class, try your hand at making bagels, or fermenting your own kimchi, I’m pretty sure you’ll walk away satisfied and eager to try more.
Is your organization assisting people in need within the Hamilton community during the COVID-19 pandemic? Please feel free to contact Fraser Fitzgerald ([email protected]) and your organization may be eligible to receive $2 of every e-cookbook sold.