When people hear the phrase "vegan restaurant," they typically react in one of three ways. One — the vegan — is gleeful and full of excitement about the prospect of being able to eat a meal as it was prepared and without special requests or modification. Another reaction usually involves a grimace, an eye roll and mutterings about how the food won’t cut the mustard. The third camp sits between the yays and nays; they eat vegan food but aren’t its biggest cheerleaders.
For the nays camp, one of the biggest issues with veganism seems to be the idea that it operates on a deficit of ingredients and familiarity. People focus more on what’s missing instead of looking at what’s added or used to replace flavors and ingredients. This can be especially true for communities of color, where fast food is readily available but fresh and healthy ingredients are limited and expensive.
For these communities, veganism speaks to a sense of privilege and an even larger disconnect. That is, until you meet someone like Chanise Condren from Electric Kitchen, a Dallas based pop-up kitchen and catering service.
"Our food is delicious. Our people are dope. Our mission is simple: Elevate the level of conscious surrounding what we consume, how we nurture the environment, the way we protect our health and connections to one another through food and good vibes," Electric Kitchen's mission statement reads.
Condren is a fairly recent convert to veganism and the business, but she sees the larger picture. She’s just over two years into this venture, and maybe that’s why she’s able walk the line of wanting everyone to move to plant-based dishes while understanding that the thought of eating vegan nachos might seems blasphemous to some.
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This newness lets her recognize the need to approach vegan cooking with a sense of both innovation and respect. It also allows Condren the flexibility to bring food to the public through partnerships with local small businesses and community-organized events. On Valentine's Day, Electric Kitchen served green chile jackfruit tacos at Spinster Records. On Dia de los Muertos, it served vegan nachos and elotes.
Electric Kitchen gets its name from the idea that food is charged with energy that can affect our bodies in a positive way when it’s made with whole ingredients and heart, something this small outfit has a lot of. Condren and her partner, Ashley Garner, along with Daniel Vicieux and Jennifer Robertson, operate on the idea that good, homemade food can bring you over to the vegan side one dish at a time. Don’t believe it? Try the nachos.
Follow Electric Kitchen on social media to see where it will pop up next.