This past year saw tons of vegan restaurants open up shop in the Capital Region—Albany got Wizard Burger and Subculture, Troy got a new plant-based Beer Garden, and Schenectady’s Square One got a new life as Take Two Cafe. While the Saratoga restaurant scene hasn’t exactly jumped on the bandwagon yet (though there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian offerings at Whole Harvest, Tatu Tacos & Tequila, Scallions and more), an unlikely suspect is bringing plant power to the Spa City.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center has announced the return of its popular [email protected] series with Fall Flavor Fusion, a vegetarian dinner scheduled for Saturday, November 20 at the [email protected] The event will see New York City–based chef Jehangir Mehta work in tandem with Michael Blake, head chef of Yaddo, and Kim Klopstock of Lily and the Rose to present a five-course meal featuring environmentally conscious dishes such as “Zero-Waste Papadums,” “Smoky Japanese Eggplant Buns” and “Steamed Chocolate and Coffee Pudding.” Chef Mehta, formerly of NYC restaurants Graffiti and Graffiti Earth, is known for his sustainable cooking practices and blending of flavors and textures from his native India with those of the rest of the world.
“Sustainability starts with vulnerability,” Chef Mehta says. “Only if you are vulnerable can you truly speak the truth. You need to understand and come to terms with your thoughts and showcase your sustainable practices without shame.” The chef was in the Spa City back in 2019 for the Saratoga Wine & Food Festival, but says he didn’t have time to explore the city. He looks forward to doing just that this time around.
As for the rise of plant-based cooking, Mehta sees it as more than a passing craze. “I hope it is not a trend, but a mind change, as only then will a real movement occur,” he says. “Educating the population on this versus preaching can create the change.” At Fall Flavor Fusion, he’ll speak to the dining room about his dishes and philosophy.
“More and more of us want to cook with less or no meat and are excited to see how Mehta achieves such delicious results,” says Chef Klopstock. “This will be a refreshing culinary alternative as we head into Thanksgiving week to enjoy traditional American fare.”