In Southern California, a French chef is leading the movement to veganize classic French cuisine.
Sandra Hurtault grew up in the French town of Rueil-Malmaison, just outside of Paris. When she decided to go vegan, she knew she’d have to figure out a way to bring all of her favorite French recipes with her.
“As a French kid, you need to learn how to [make a crepe] in your sleep. It’s the rite of passage. Before you’re 10-years-old you need to know how to make a crepe… And I just thought, ‘I don’t see any of the beautiful classics that my mom would cook made vegan. I don’t see a lot of French vegan food,” she said.
Despite a successful career in real estate and finance, she never felt truly fulfilled. Her life is now devoted to deconstructing her favorite recipes and repurposing them as plant-based cuisine. Hurtault is a personal chef, and her business, Ma Table Végane, takes her artistic flair to her clients’ homes.
“Everything with French cooking, being vegan or not, takes a little bit of time… So you’ve got to be patient,” she said.
Katie Vaughan and her husband, Francois Dussault, were treated to an afternoon high tea, prepared entirely in their Encinitas home.
Vaughan is convinced there’s something deliciously magical about Hurtault’s food creations with each bite.
“I thought it was impossible to make French cuisine or baked goods that were vegan, but they’re absolutely delicious and clearly it’s not impossible… You just need some magic,” Vaughan said.
Hurtault’s magic comes in the shape of her imagination. While dairy is used extensively in French cuisine, she prepares her own particular milk from a blend of almonds, vanilla, and spices.
She also uses only local and organic products to capture the fresh flavors of nature.
“We are at the genesis of vegan cooking… Making all that beautiful food, it’s just showing people that they don’t have to miss out on anything,” she said.
She likes to imagine she’s following in the footsteps of another culinary trailblazer from France.
“The vegan Julia Child,” Hurtault laughed. “Just because she’s quirky and a little clumsy like me, but she still makes very good stuff. And she loves butter, so I guess we have that in common, except mine is cruelty-free.”
She also prepares different cuisines that she has learned about during her travels around the world.
Hurtault recently competed on vKind’s very own “Peeled,” America’s first and only 100% vegan cooking show.
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