Lauren Von Der Pool’s switch to a plant based lifestyle and becoming a renowned vegan chef isn’t linear. Unlike many culinary stars, her journey kicked off because of a near death experience at the mere age of sixteen. This made her metaphorically and literally want to remove the “poison” in her life. And she did, by swapping processed foods with ones that would help her feel, look, create and be better—specifically raw foods. Ultimately, she realized she had a great purpose on the planet, to heal herself and others with nature’s bounty.
One woe many vegan chefs face including Chef Von Der Pool is dispelling the myth that vegan food is bland. She overcomes this challenge daily with her beautiful creations like vegan deviled eggs served at the 2022 Met Gala. Or her cilantro mustard dressing that’s loved by Common. Soon she’ll take on demystifying the myth again at the “Spices of the Caribbean” event, held at the luxurious Jade Mountain. The chef will lead the culinary program. Guests can expect a fusion of West Indian and International flavors presented in vegan al fresco cooking class, farm to table dinner or other events.
Before leading the event, it’s worth noting the Guyanese-American chef has developed a very impressive resume. As hinted, she catered high-profile events such as 2022 Met Gala, as well as The Oscars, The Grammys, The Olympics, Wimbledon. Most notably, she worked alongside Former First Lady Michelle Obama, playing an instrumental role in her 2009 child obesity prevention campaign, ‘Let’s Move.’ She’s also a Le Cordon Bleu graduate and cookbook author of Eat Yourself Sexy. Additionally she has appeared twice on The Food Network’s hit TV show, Chopped, and has also worked with world-renowned chefs, including Marcus Samuelson, Alice Waters, and Wolfgang Puck. While you would think that one of the aforementioned is her most outstanding achievements, you are mistaken.
In an exclusive interview with Honest Cooking, Von Der Pool gives us a glimpse of who she is, her inspirations, her biggest achievement to date, and what we can expect next from the self-proclaimed “Queen of Green.”
Who is Chef Lauren Von Der Pool?
I’m a multidisciplinary artist, author, and philanthropist. Everything I do has a foundational piece of love, harmony, and devotion to the creator. I like in myself to be a superhero here, on a special assignment to help raise the consciousness, and awareness of humanity in fun and creative ways.
Before your near-death experience, what was your career path?
I simply wanted it to be a star. My love for being on the stage, singing, dancing, and acting were my first true loves. I was just not willing to be a starving artist, literally and figuratively, so I chose food because, let’s be honest, I am also always hungry.
What dishes can we expect at the “Spices of the Caribbean” event?
Attendees can expect a multi-sensory experience fused with the International flavors of Guyana, India, Asia, Africa, Latin America, Brazil, and Europe. My specialty is taking the traditional and reimagining its possibilities. Expect fun and flavorful food art.
The way your present dishes look like sculptures one may witness at the MET, what art or artist inspires you?
Everything in life inspires me! I could walk down the street and see the most random outfit or sculpture that can inspire my art! That can invoke the birth of a flavor profile. I allow all things to inspire me. If I could think of an artist that inspires me the most, it would be GOD.
What are your favorite West Indian vegan dishes?
My favorite West Indian dishes are actually not vegan, but I have learned to veganize them. My favorites are “Buss up shut” ( Paratha roti) with curry potatoes, pepper pot, doubles, and “saltfish” and bake!
What is your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment is my work in the community with people who might never experience my food at the Oscars or the Met Gala. I am most proud of the philanthropic work I do. My six-week summer youth employment program is, hands-down, one of my favorite accomplishments. Seeing young people transform in front of me is always one of my greatest pleasures. Especially because I was one of those young inner-city youth. It’s a gift to me that I can support them, which as a child, I longed for so much.
What are five ingredients you cannot live without?
The five ingredients that I cannot live without onions, Ume plum vinegar, mangoes, coconuts, and spicy peppers of any kind.
What’s next for the Queen of Green?
What’s next for me is overall expansion. I’ll have more pop-up dinners, my first food art exhibition, products, classes, offerings, and stage presence.