Kevin with Lorraine
Vegan cooking classes are happening at Catskill Animal Sanctuary for the next few weekends. Check it out: Beans & Grains (11/7), Breakfast & Brunch (11/13), Comfort Foods (11/14), and Vegan Desserts (12/4).
It’s part of CAS’s visionary Compassionate Cuisine program. CAS is currently the only farmed animal sanctuary with a culinary program taught on-site.
Kevin Archer is the Director of the program and teaches the classes. Kevin is a Certified Vegan Chef who trained at the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder. He cheffed at the Tree House Cafe in Santa Fe before he was selected to run CAS’s Compassionate Cuisine program through a national search conducted last year. Kevin answers some questions about the program and, of course, discusses the most important topic: food!
Cat: Tell us about the Compassionate Cuisine program at Catskill Animal Sanctuary.
Kevin Archer: The program contains several components: vegan cooking classes, onsite organic gardening (a first for CAS!), public appearances (festivals, fairs, etc.), and soon-to-come iTunes podcasts. We are constantly seeking new outreach methods.
For the cooking classes, who’s your intended audience?
The intended audience consists of: anyone! Okay, to be more specific, there are a lot of folks who would reduce (or eliminate) animal products in their diets if they just knew what to cook instead. I want to teach them that vegan food can be satisfying and sustaining. Others that we hope to reach are new vegans who need ideas; more established vegans who need new ideas; anyone who wants to learn more about healthy eating, regardless of what they call their diet. A lot of us cook from habit, and can always use a fresh approach or learn to cook with new ingredients.
What’s the teaching facility like?
The kitchen classroom is in the old farmhouse that was part of the original farm. In fact, the house predates the American Revolution! It’s cozy and has a great welcoming feel with plenty of room for all to put on an apron and participate. We also cater our own events out of this kitchen, so it is quite capable and efficient.
What’s your definition of comfort food?
Ah… a good question! And it depends upon the season, of course. There’s no comfort like a fresh garden salad in the summer, with a little flax oil and some lemon. But with the winter coming on, I’m thinking about Roots au Gratin, or even Green Chile Risotto. Regardless of the season, I want the same effect: I want it to balance out the way I’m feeling. You know, when you have a bit of a chill and you dig into some vegan mac-and-cheese? Now, I also require my comfort food to be healthy, so I that I’m comfortable in the long run, too.
Do you have a slam-dunk Thanksgiving menu that satisfies both vegans and non-vegans alike?
No one has ever walked away from my Winter Squash Tart or Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries. Add a hearty helping of Seitan Roast with Onion Gravy, and everyone is satisfied. What people want more than anything, I believe, is to be delighted on a holiday. So with that in mind, I’ll roll out some Bread Pudding and a Pecan Tart.
Oh my… How did you get hooked up with Catskill Animal Sanctuary?
I found their listing on the internet last autumn. It was the most unique opportunity I could imagine: come to an animal sanctuary, build a culinary program, establish a garden (I’m a long-time gardener), and support a truly noble and far-reaching cause. Once I came up to meet everyone–animals included–I was sold!
Who are your favorite critter buddies at the sanctuary?
My most recent favorite was Lorraine, a gamehen that had been here for about two years. She fell into ill health, so she came to live with me in the farmhouse. Her condition worsened after a few weeks, so Abbie (animal care director) and I gave her a peaceful send-off last week. She was a remarkable spirit. You can read about her at www.chefkevinarcher.com (look for “Lorraine” in the blog postings). Abbie also posted a short video on youtube.
Classes are $60 each and run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (845) 336-8447 to reserve your spot. More info here.