Thursday, 17 May, 2018
Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno, the brothers behind the Wicked Healthy brand, are quickly becoming known as stand-out chefs in the vegan food realm.
Their latest venture, the Wicked Healthy cookbook, is due to be released on May 31st but it’s already causing quite the stir. Here’s what you can expect from one of the most highly anticipated cookbooks in recent times.
When I tried to think of a supermarket food range that’s launch rivalled the enthusiasm and furore of the Wicked Kitchen brand, I was completely stumped. Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen seems to cater seamlessly for a new wave of vegans, being bold, unconventional and full of flavour. Perhaps even more interestingly, the chef behind the range, Derek Sarno, was pushed out as a media personality in a style you would expect to see of trendy new Camden restaurant, not from a range of Tesco’s microwave meals.
Perhaps this is a testament to the range being genuinely tasty and innovative, two words that we don’t often attribute to ready-made supermarket food. Or maybe the Sarno magic is just too enigmatic to keep away from. Either way, the Wicked Kitchen range has only served to whet our appetites for the Wicked Healthy cookbook.
The masterminds behind Wicked Healthy, Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno, have built a solid brand around big flavours and ‘craveable’ dishes that just happen to be healthy. The book describes their signature style as 80% healthy, 20% wicked and 100% sexy. This translates to mouth-watering creations like king oyster scallops with shaved asparagus and corona butter and king satay with spicy peanut ginger sauce.
The duo describes themselves as ‘plant-pushers’ not ‘meat-shamers’, with the book written to appeal to vegans and meat-eaters alike. This is certainly a cookbook firmly about the love of really great food, but it’s encouraging to read Derek assert that “animals should not have to suffer just to feed our indulgences.” This is a book that has been written to appeal to the masses, so it’s great to see this subtle nod towards animal rights.
For the most part, the Wicked Healthy cookbook replicates the no-fuss, light-hearted style that we see in their blog, especially when they talk about being “kitchen ninjas” and “not choking down food that tastes like sh*t”. But then we get a snapshot of brothers’ backstories. The tales of how they got to where they are today are honest and inspirational, giving you a real sense of who the brothers are behind the cheeky catchphrases.
The incredible stories detail two separate paths for the brothers which led them both to this exceptional conclusion. You can see food has always central to their story, from learning to cook with their nana and mom, to Wicked Healthy taking root on a farm back in 2003. It’s nice to know that plant-based living has been a true long-term passion for the pair, rather than an attempt to capitalize on food trends. We hear tales about living in Tibetan Buddhist ministries, soul-searching, going off-grid and experiencing tragic deaths, but it all comes back to finding themselves with great food.
This dedication to food is evident throughout the book, with enticing recipes that have clearly been created with pride, effort and love. But beyond this, we are given an extensive introduction which breaks down the fundamentals of cooking; from what equipment you should always have on hand, to key techniques on how to build flavour. It’s quite rare to have a vegan cookbook that has been created by a professional chef – so many are created by self-taught cooks – so it’s refreshing to see expert advice applied to plant-based cuisine and this serves as just another reason why Wicked Healthy stands apart from its competitors.
Wicked Healthy has a distinctive style which is most evident in its imagery. The photographs throughout the book are bold, vibrant and messy – expertly communicating how flavour-packed the food is. Warning: you will get hungry when flicking through this book and won’t be able to hold of on diving into the recipes, just so you can test if they’re really as divine as they look.
All in all, the recipes aren’t too complex. Even the most novice of chefs should be able to follow the very simple instructions, particularly if you have studied their opening chapters and swotted up on the fundamentals.
You may come across difficult to find ingredients, with some of the ingredients listed being strangely specific, this is probably a sign of how seriously the Sarno brothers take their recipes, but it does mean you’ll have to make sure you spend a little more time planning and preparing.
In my humble opinion, the Wicked Healthy cookbook certainly lives up to the hype. Whether you are a vegan, aspiring vegan or just somebody who wants to eat more plants, Wicked Healthy serves up tantalizing dishes that will make you fall in love with the magic of plants.
Wicked Healthy Cookbook: Free. From. Animals. is available in stores now.