Appetizers

Dishing the news about the Sacramento area food scene

With momentum from sold-out debut, chef forges ahead with more vegan pop-up dinners

12/30/2013 1:24 PM

12/30/2013 5:12 PM

Sylvanna Mislang, the chef behind new and exciting The Roaming Chef, is ramping up for her second and third pop-up dinners.

Like the inaugural feast, Mislang’s menu will be entirely vegan and, according to the feedback from a chorus of new fans who tasted the food, artistically presented and featuring a rich cross-section of flavors and ingredient combinations.

Mislang’s cooking may be vegan, but there is nothing timid about her approach. Her full-time job is in the all-organic produce department at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, where she is afforded time to not only appreciate the great variety of produce grown by the region’s farms but daydream about how she may use the ingredients in her upcoming dinners.

The next dinner will be Jan. 4 (this Saturday), followed by one on Jan. 25. As with the first event, guests register and pay online, then learn of the location only on the morning of the dinner via email. This is very 21st century, so you need to be internet savvy and connected – no phone calls, no snail mail. (Please don’t call and tell me you don’t have the internets. That’s like saying you don’t have indoor plumbing – maybe worse, since you can’t buy shoes on Zappos, watch silly cat videos or waste years of your life on Facebook by connecting to your hot water pipes).

Each dinner will consist of 4-5 courses, along with a couple of appetizers served while guests gather and mingle. The price is $50. To book a seat at the table at either or both events, visit Brown Paper Tickets by clicking here.

The gathering and mingling for the first dinner, by the way, was delayed slightly because guests were given the wrong street address for the event location, a minor snafu that was quickly remedied. The dinners are BYOB. What pairs well with vegan? Pretty much everything – sparkling wine, craft beer, hard cider, medium-bodied reds, crisp whites, maybe something off-dry like a Riesling.

As I mentioned when I touted the inaugural dinner, I’m not aware of another series of vegan pop-up dinners in the area, so Mislang is certainly carving out her own niche. Whether you’re a full-time vegan or someone who occasionally chooses to eat that way, you’d do well to show your support for what this chef is doing.

I know from first-hand experience that she is not only a bona fide talent, but she has a passion for helping the local food scene grow, prosper and diversify. If and when that happens, we all benefit. Among the dishes at that first dinner were a Filipino inspired “humble soup” with glass noodles and, for dessert, a silken tofu brulee flavored with coconut.

I caught up with Mislang by phone recently to ask how the first dinner went and what we can expect going forward.

“I was a little bit nervous, of course, and it was definitely a learning experience,” she told me. “Other than that, I was really pleased with how the dishes came out.”

For an expert reaction to the dinner, check out local vegan advocate and connoisseur Pam Giarrizzo’s assessment on her excellent blog, “Sacramento Vegan,” by clicking here. I suggest you bookmark her blog and visit regularly to keep up with her latest vegan adventures as well as dig into her many earlier postings.

Back to Mislang. One thing about the first experience she liked was “that a lot of people who didn’t know each other were conversing, and that was beautiful to see.” Indeed, that’s one of the appeals of these pop-ups – you get to meet new and interesting people who truly care about eating well.

I asked about her approach for the next two dinners. She is still formulating the precise menu and testing out dishes.

“Just what is seasonal and what is local to Sacramento,” she said. “Making food that is beautiful to the eyes and then do something really wonderful and pleasant to the palate. I want people to come and enjoy and for me to showcase what I can do with the products Mother Nature has given us.”

She added, “It’s not like you have to have meat as your focal point. This isn’t just for vegans. It’s something for everyone to experience.”

While that menu takes shape, Mislang, who has worked in the kitchens at Blackbird and L Wine Bar, hinted that risotto could be a featured dish and that butternut squash might well be a star ingredient on various courses. She’s been working on test dishes that include butternut squash done five ways – pickled, roasted, pureed in a soup, shaved and then fried. OK, that’s four ways. Is there another? Maybe you should go to the dinner!

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