Meet the Ladies Helping Planoites Eat a Little Greener
There are a lot of ways to go green nowadays: electric cars, reusable bottles, recycling. They may make us feel good, but more often than not they’re a small drop in a very large bucket. In gestures to protect the planet, we often overlook what’s on our plates; it’s difficult to ignore the high environmental cost of meat and animal products we eat. But going vegetarian or vegan overnight is hard, and for many of us, giving up meat for good is just out of the question. Fortunately the ladies at the soon-to-open Viridescent Kitchen will be serving up vegan dishes along with a healthy side of knowledge.
Gabrielle Reyes and Laura Thornthwaite are a good match. Gabrielle is a vegan chef and caterer, and Laura is the creator of Simple Sprout, a line of vegan nut butters. They’re the duo behind Viridescent Kitchen, a plant-based, cruelty-free kitchen opening in July next to The Boardwalk at Granite Park.
“I was manufacturing nut butters before,” Laura starts, “but what I needed was a commercial kitchen. There wasn’t one close to my house, and the other ones near me weren’t plant-based.” This frustration led her to a realization: There were no fully vegan rental kitchens and event spaces – not just in Plano, but in the entire United States. With this in mind, Laura set out to make one of her own.
She reached out to Gabrielle, another chef on the local vegan scene. Gabrielle was thrilled about the idea of a partnership. “I knew I personally didn’t want a [full-time] restaurant, but to have the idea to build one to create my food – I was thrilled, blessed. I cried,” she said.
The two came up with a plan. Both didn’t particularly want to wrestle with the full time operation of a restaurant, and knew that when it comes to eating green, variety is truly the spice of life. So they set a plan to operate as a commercial kitchen with rotating chefs and cuisines in residence throughout the week. Guests can have an entirely different menu every day.
Because Viridescent Kitchen is more of a launching platform for smaller vegan concepts without the ability or desire to open a full restaurant of their own, patrons can expect to see folks from Vegan Vibrationz, Sierra Valley Food and Exotic Bites and certainly many more make their way through the space. “It’s a vegan incubator of sorts,” Gabrielle says.
Not all of us want to eat 100% vegan, though. So the ladies set their sights set on making sure everyone feels welcome. “We want [the kitchen] to be a place where people can find out how to go green, as opposed to forcing the idea of veganism down someone’s throat,” says Gabrielle. “There are so many different varieties of foods that can be made without animal products.” This concept of a slow but gentle transition into being more Earth-friendly is precisely where the name came from, as viridescent describes the process of becoming green.
Laura, Gabrielle and their team (referred to as the “Green Team”) all know that serving up delicious food that appeals to everyone – regardless of dietary convictions – is only a fraction of making the concept successful. In order to convince people, they have to build a community around themselves.
“Something really cool we plan on doing every weekend is to have chefs come in and do a cooking demo or a cooking class. We want it to serve as an event space, a community space,” says Gabrielle. “We want to bring in things like movie nights, fitness classes, even open mic nights,” Laura adds.
Viridescent Kitchen plans to open July 27; the ladies will host the vegan V Market to bring folks from all around to learn about their space. While the future of environmentalism is yet to be decided, for many of us, the first decision is an easy one. It’s less about what we put in our tanks, our bottles or our recycle bins, and more about what we put on our plates.Viridescent Kitchen >