Oh, the controversy around Chef Suvir Saran's grandstanding at Top Chef Masters competition a few weeks ago.
Yes, I know. I'm so totally current. LOL.
For those who didn't watch, this was what happened. The challenge was to make a lower calorie meal for the Biggest Losers contestants based on their high calorie favorite dish. Chef Suvir's diner liked bacon cheeseburger. Suvir made her a vegetarian "burger", more like a pita with some stuff inside it. She didn't like it.
There was a speech accommodating this dish about health benefits of vegetarian diet and harms from red meat that got a lot of people uncomfortable and even angry.
When asked why he didn't make his diner a healthier dish with meat in it like she had requested, he stuck to his principals--it's a change of lifestyle he's trying to get her to make.
Now, while everyone flipped out about him apparently cooking for himself and not for his diner, I have a counterpoint to make.
There are ways to make GREAT vegetarian burgers that would turn a meat eater into a believer. I know it for a fact, because I'm one of those converted.
Some of you know that I am a once-a-week lacto-vegetarian for religious purpose. I say yes to dairy but no eggs if I can avoid it. So I have been eating different vegetarian dishes on those Tuesdays. Once in a while, I'd run into something new and delicious that I would order even on the day that I eat meat.
For examples, I adore Soyrizo burrito and vegetarian bacon BLT at Mendocino Farms in downtown Los Angeles and I still sometimes dream about the homemade veggie patties at Crazy Burgers in San Diego.
All it took for me to pick a veggie burger over a beef one is the fact that it was tasty and satisfying. It didn't taste like soy or cardboard. It's so good that I don't feel like I was missing the beef or the bacon.
Such lifestyle changing burger exists.
It just wasn't what Suvir made that day. His pita creation failed to vow the diner and the critics alike. Unfortunately for him, that hurts his cause.
He could've made a veggie burger that tastes meaty and added some bacon substitute for the texture. (I don't know, fried coconut dusted with smoked paprika?) His diner would've been satisfied and his point proven correct.
Having said that, while people are up in arms about Suvir's message about vegetarianism, I applaud him for sticking to his gun.
Lifestyle can change, people. The man had a point.
Now, go out there and find yourself a gateway vegetarian burger. Then come back to talk to me about it. :)