You might have recently read about Julie Hasson in our March+April issue, in which she talked about her new book, her bustling website, online cooking show, and fabulous vegan food cart in Portland, Ore. We wanted to know more, so we sat down to chat with this multitasking vegan.
VegNews: Vegan Diner is your first vegan cookbook. When did you make the transition into veganism, and what made you make the change?
Julie Hasson: It was really a combination of things. About 10 years ago, my vegan friend Heather introduced me to veganism. I was already vegetarian, and I immediately fell in love with vegan cooking. As a chef, the challenge of cooking vegan dishes became infectious and exciting. I also read a lot about the issues of factory farming and felt the pull to become vegan. It did take me a little while to transition to writing exclusively vegan cookbooks. That was about 4 or 5 years ago when we started Everyday Dish. I’ve never looked back.
VN: Well, we’re glad you didn’t! Your five previous cookbooks were dessert themed. What made you branch out from just desserts with this book?
JH: I was ready to spread my wings a little bit. I still absolutely adore desserts, and made sure to include a really big dessert chapter in Vegan Diner.
VN: What is your favorite recipe from Vegan Diner?
JH: That’s a really hard question to answer, because I have so many favorites in the book. It might have to be the Soft And Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, or the Peanut Butter Chunk Ice Cream (here I go talking about desserts again!), or maybe the Biscuits and Creamy Sage Gravy, or the Veggies and Dumplings…
VN: Your food cart, Native Bowl, is quite beloved. What’s the most popular item on your menu?
JH: The most popular item on the menu is the Broadway Bowl, which is layered with a creamy peanut ginger sauce, seared garlic tofu, jasmine rice, and a ton of fresh crisp veggies. It’s delicious! The Mississippi Bowl, with seared barbequed Soy Curls, two kinds of BBQ sauce, and crisp, fresh coleslaw is a close second.
VN: Sounds delicious! Any new menu items in the works?
JH: I’m working on a new dessert recipe for the cart, as well as a new bowl special. I’m also hoping to add another gluten-free option or two to our menu.
VN: You are a jack of all trades—cookbook author, vegan business owner, star of your own cooking show, and you run your own website. You also have two children. How do you maintain a balance, and keep from burning out?
JH: That’s a great question! I think that it really comes down to doing what you love and are passionate about. Even when I have a day off from work, you can usually find me in the kitchen, playing around with a new recipe or idea that I have. However, my husband and I try really hard to take at least one day off a week to play, whether it’s going for a long hike, walk or even just going out to lunch at one of the other delicious vegan food carts or restaurants in Portland.
VN: Any new projects in the works? A new vegan dessert cookbook, perhaps?
JH: I’m currently working on a couple of cookbook proposals, so I’m not sure which one will actually make the cut. One is a dessert book, and the other is savory. I really hope that I get to write them both!
Hungry for some diner fare? Click here for Julie’s Biscuits and Creamy Sage Gravy.