Vedge chefs dream up a vegan meal for Pope Francis [video]

What would you cook up if you had the chance to serve dinner to Pope Francis? We asked some of the city’s top chefs to weigh in. Here’s what they said.

This is part two in a series

Since his installation as the Holy Father, Pope Francis has spoken out on climate change, materialism and wasting food.

So when choosing a meal for the pontiff, husband and wife duo Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby of Vedge and V Street, were already a step ahead, offering an ethical, plant-based approach.

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“I think he’d be really into what we’re doing,” said Landau. “He’s a really forward thinking pope, and we like to consider ourselves forward thinking.”

Both Landau and Jacoby, who opened Vedge — the first of their two vegan restaurants in the city — in 2011, chose a dish they would prepare for Pope Francis.

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“When we work with vegetables at Vedge, we believe in using the whole vegetable,” said Landau.

His plate for the pontiff? An eggplant braciole — roasted eggplant mixed with cauliflower and rice, wrapped in thinly sliced eggplant. He plated it over a Sicilian salsa verde — a green herb sauce, made with preserved lemons, capers, parsley, basil — and topped it with a bagna cauda, a broken black olive vinaigrette. 

“A meal fit for a vegan pope,” he said, while adding his final touches to the dish.

Jacoby chose a recipe close to her heart — potato pierogies — but with a Latin twist in honor of Pope Francis’ Argentinian heritage.

Jacoby waxed nostalgic while rolling out her freshly-prepared dough.

“Pierogies were the first thing that came to my mind because I was raised Catholic and every year at Christmastime, I would make pierogies,” said Jacoby. “To me, it’s just this deep-rooted family connection to something we would celebrate at Christmas.”

At home, where she has passed the tradition down to her son, she would be using the cutter that her grandmother gave to her. At the restaurant though, a ring mold worked just fine.

She picked up the excess pieces for later use.

“Don’t like to waste, the pope wouldn’t like that, that’s for sure,” she said. 

For the filling, Jacoby hand mashed an order of Peruvian fries — flash-fried roasted potatoes topped with scallions, cilantro, crushed peanuts and a little bit of black olive.

A few minutes in some boiling water, a quick sauté, and a squirt of ahi amarillo creme sauce later, the plate was ready for the pontiff.

“There’s so much love in what we do,” said Landau. “We try to make our dishes so that they don’t exist anywhere else in the world. We try to be unique. We try to bring these great flavors out that just get right into your soul, that really, really speak to you.”

And that’s the sentiment they hope comes out in the dishes they would serve Pope Francis if given a chance. 

“This particular pope has everyone’s attention,” said Jacoby. “He just has so much draw. He has such, such an audience right now, at a pivotal time. You know, we’re always at a pivotal time, but he can make an impact and it’s really special to know that he’s coming to Philly.”

This is part two in a series

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