Bent Restaurant - Veggielicious 101 Workshop

Thursday, September 04, 2014

A few weeks ago I had opportunity to visit Bent, one of Chef Susur Lee's family of restaurants for a Veggielicious 101 workshop hosted by the culinary master himself.

I was extremely excited to meet Chef Lee and to experience a workshop that focused primarily on vegetarian cooking.  I've tried many of the creative Asian-fusion dishes at some of Lee's other restaurants so I knew that he would create a variety of exceptional vegetarian dishes at the workshop.
Photo by Mary Tang

About 15 food bloggers from Toronto were in attendance and it was great to finally put some faces to the names I've been following on Twitter and Instagram.  The afternoon started off with some Bent appetizers to snack on while Susur talked to us about Bent and the exciting Veggielicious menu.

Susur took us outside to his neighbours yard where a plethora of fresh vegetables and herbs were growing, many of which Susur uses in his dishes.  It was refreshing to hear Susur talk about his culinary experiences in a very humble manner.  He was friendly and engaging which really made me appreciate his talent even more. He was genuinely interested in talking to each and every one of us about our blogs and hearing about our opinions on various food-related matter.

The first item that Susur taught us how to make was a dessert.  I was happy about this because I have a serious sweet-tooth and to my excitement we were making a French Meringue with Golden Licorice.  I have never made meringue in my life so I paid close attention to what Susur had to say about the intricacy involved in making the perfect meringue.  After whipping up a fluffy batch of the meringue, we all piped our own mini meringue nests. My nest turned out to be small and dinky but after a slow and long bake, the outcome was absolutely delicious. 

After making the meringues, Susur whipped out his famous signature Singapore Slaw which is currently on the menu at Lee, soon to be found on the BENT menu, rejoice ya’ll!  This slaw is seriously one of my fav dishes in the CITY. With over 19 ingredients, this slaw mountain of colour, flavour and texture packs some heavy nutrients and vegetarian proteins. The dish is inspired by a traditional Chinese New Year offering, where the more ingredients, the better one's luck in the upcoming year.

Next up we had the opportunity to sample the Veggielicious dishes on the ‘Best of the Season’ menu that will be featured at Bent from September 9th to the 20th. This $45 prix fixe menu is a blessing for all vegetarians who relish in good food and flavour but also for anyone who wants to get better acquainted with the versatile ways of incorporating vegetables into everyday dishes that taste wonderful.

The Veggielicious Menu
Three-way Dip - Hummus of Romano beans with salted chillies and sherry vinegar, roasted olives with sumach and lemon preserve, Caribbean eggplant baba ganoush with cilantro and spicy mustard seed tomato stew with walnut and curry leaf, all served with baked garlic lavash.

Tingly Chilled Soba - Shredded local vegetable and yuba cake, confit of shiitake, shisho leaf, nori crisps in a Taiwanese vinaigrette.
Chickpea Tempura Tofu - pickled brassica and fish mint, shishito peppers, Korean sweet chili sauce and braised burdock root.  
Wild Mushroom Quinoa Risotto - roasted cauliflower, parmigiano reggiano emulsion and tempeh crouton.  There is also a vegan option available without cheese.

French Meringue with Golden Licorice -  Lemon curd, wild blueberry, peaches, passionfruit syrup and raspberry coulis.

With good food comes good drinks and the signature cocktails we learned how to make from bartender Manuel were impressive! He taught us how to make the Karate Kid 2 cocktail and the Asian Caesar.  Both are made with a lot of homemade ingredients which gives these drinks a unique and authentic flavour.  The Karate Kid 2 cocktail is a sake based cocktail with nigori (unfiltered) sake, yuzu and lime juice, vanilla syrup, egg white, coriander and best of all the jasmine tea infused gin that literally karate kicked this drink up into the Amazing category. 

The Asian Caesar was a concoction of a homemade clamato mix with hoisin, soya, chili sesame oil, sriracha and some other secret spices. The oyster is optional.

Having had the chance to work with Chef Lee was a truly an honour and I want to thank everyone at Bent who made this experience one to remember!

The Veggieliocus menu kicks off on Sept 9th so be sure to stop by Bent to indulge in some of the best produce of the season in this truly flavourful and fresh vegetarian menu.

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