"Eat food...Mostly plants" ----Michael Pollan
At the time I began training in restaurants it was customary for plants to play a secondary role as a side dish or accompaniment to meat or fish. Yet, the techniques I learned in the kitchen when moving from station to station were in fact all plant based - garde manger (salads and knife skills), entremetier (vegetable cookery), saucier (stocks and sauce making), and patissier (sweets and bread baking). In opening Flourish as a vegan kitchen, I implemented the techniques that I had learned, but this time, with plants out front. While savory cooking was more forgiving, baking without eggs, milk and butter was a little more difficult. It was a challenge that I was eager to take.
When I began to convert my recipes the timing couldn't be better. New ingredients began to emerge in the marketplace in response to a growing demand for more vegan and sustainable products. Ancient grains were available as flours - millet, oats, quinoa. Seeds and grains transformed into creamy dairy-free plant milks. Coconut took unexpected forms such as yogurt, butter, cheese, flour, sugar and even vinegar. At Flourish, beans and legumes became cornerstone ingredients in our soy and nut-free kitchen that crossed between sweet and savory. As an egg and nut replacer, beans and even bean water (aquafaba) provided nutrition and structure vital to baked goods. And, beans require less irrigation unlike water-intensive nut and soy crops.
Adopting a vegan approach in our kitchen, it turns out, was not sacrificing anything in terms of taste, flavor, or performance; but acquiring a deeper understanding of ingredients and how to use them.
----Diane Forley chef/founder Flourish Baking Company
Diane Forley, has been a long-standing advocate and practitioner of plant-based cooking and baking. Chef Forley’s “roots” in modern American and classical French kitchens have allowed her to develop a personal approach that breaks with, yet remains mindful of, tradition. Her early training included The River Café and Gotham Bar and Grill in New York and L’Arpege and Maison Blanche in Paris, and pastry at L’Ecole Lenôtre.
Diane began her foray into vegetable cookery in the 1990s putting fruits and vegetables at the center of the plate at her restaurant, Verbena, in New York City. Her botanically-inspired cookbook, Anatomy of a Dish (2002), established her at the forefront of the plant-based movement. In 2009, Chef Forley opened Flourish Baking Company with a mission to transform her kitchen towards a more sustainable, vegan approach and to address the growing need for allergen friendly products. Most recently, she developed a line of decorating supplies, including an organic, egg-free meringue powder, available through her e-commerce store, meringueshop.