Whether you’re a Patriots fan, an Eagles fan, or a food fan, chances are you’re going to be watching some football on Sunday, February 4. Chances are, however, that these parties are going to include something you might not be such a fan of: meat and dairy. If you’re worried you’ll find yourself in a sea of burgers and wings hanging on with nothing but a carrot stick, we have a delicious lifesaver (well, four) for you. These exclusive recipes from Los Angeles chef Ayinde Howell (who opened New York City’s first vegan pop-up shop to loud and exuberant praise and competed on Bravo’s Rocco Dinner Party against three other meat-cooking chefs) will win Super Bowl fans over, no matter what their dietary (or team) preference. Our winner for Super Bowl 52? Jalapeño Cheddar Hoe Cakes!
VegNews: Are you a big football fan?
Ayinde Howell: I am actually not a huge fan of football; I was into martial arts growing up. But ironically, most of the women I have dated have been serious “don’t even talk to me on Sunday” football fanatics. So are most of my guy friends. As a result, I learn more about it from them. I like the friends/party aspect around big games—I sound so new age-y!
VN: Do you often entertain around sporting events?
AH: I cook for friends around sporting events; it’s an excuse to hang out and veg out. Big one-pot meals like chili, gumbo, or a good stew. Nachos are always a favorite, that and sammies!
VN: Your recipes are always so unique and creative. How you do you create a recipe, from idea to finished dish?
AH: I cook what I like to eat; I always have, from my first café (Hillside Quickie’s) to what I cook at home. I like flavor, texture, and some heat. Having grown up vegan, I often wanted what was not traditionally vegan (burgers, hot dogs, etc.), so I would just make my own version of it. The funny thing is, my tastes are not that different from what most people like.
VN: Any tips for entertaining omnivores during game time?
AH: Make these recipes! With my background as a 14-year restaurant vet, I have learned that I cook for a lot more omnivores than I do for vegans, so these recipes are tried-and-true on all categories. My tip for the activist in all us vegans: Don’t serve it with a monologue about how it’s vegan and how we are watching Forks Over Knives during halftime. Just make great tasting food, let that be the teacher, and no one will ask questions except “Can I have more?” Remember, you don’t have to sell it because it’s not “vegan food.” It’s food food!
Photo courtesy of Kate Echle