Even chili restaurant Palookaville knows there are plenty of delicious dining options of the garden variety. With the help of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly caterer Foodgazi, the restaurant now offers Meatless Mondays, when several meat-free dishes — such as the ZBLT (zucchini bacon, lettuce and tomato) with corn hominy salad — are available as an alternative to the hearty comfort food. We talk to Foodgazi co-owner Melody Caraballo about veggin' out at Palookaville and her cooking classes.
Q| How did you hook up with a chili place, since chili is typically meat-based?
"I personally know Palookaville's owner, Ian. He and I were talking about his restaurant, and he wanted to make sure that there were vegetarian options on the menu. We talked about how we could mutually support each other, and this was a good way to do it."
Q| What's the general concept behind Meatless Mondays?
"It's a nationwide movement that gets people to explore vegetarianism and to do it at least once a week. There are a lot of benefits to it. It's good for personal and planetary health, and doing it just once a week does have an impact. We have a different entree and two sides each Monday, and each dish will vary based on what's available locally. At our first Meatless Monday, we had a chipotle black bean burger, sweet potato salad with lime vinaigrette and a Southwestern quinoa salad."
Q| Tell us about the cooking classes you're offering this month.
"Our classes are very interactive. We teach you the necessary skills, and afterward we all sit down and have a family-style dinner. It's like a cooking instruction combined with a restaurant experience. In our first September class (Sept. 1), we're trying to really vary the ways we use tofu and tempeh. In our women's class (Sept. 15), we feature foods that support the reproductive system. We'll have a soup and a tea that can prevent and treat women's issues. In our seasonal class (Sept. 29), we'll provide information on which vegetables are in season and how to store them."