VeggieHappy’s co-founder Johanna McCloy recently talked with Chef Charity Morgan about her path and approach to plant-based cooking, her NFL player clients, and some of their favorite meals. Here, in part two, she also shares her recipe for Gameday Chili.
VH: How do you go about prepping all the meals?
Chef Charity: It’s about being really organized. I have huge white boards on my refrigerator that will have prep steps for me and my assistant, so maybe I’ll write onions, bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, or whatever it is I need, and I’ll put the cut next to it . . . like small diced, medium diced, shredded. Then once one of us has done it, we’ll wipe it off the white board so we can see what’s remaining.
There are a lot of sauces that are being made because that’s what people love the most. That’s pretty much where my love and my passion is, with sauces. I love making vegan sauces from scratch, whether it’s a home-made Caesar or Ranch, or a Kielbasa sauce, or Alfredo, whatever it is . . . people die for my sauces. Derrick and others say “you should be known for your sauces, you should publish your sauces because they’re so amazing.”
What would be some of your ‘wow’ meals where they say, “I can’t believe this is vegan!”
Hands down, my macaroni and cheese. Even the guys that still eat a little meat are like, you can put this on my menu every day of the week. That’s how much they love it. It’s a truffle mac and cheese that I make. I’ve also flipped it and I’ve been creative. I’ve made a buffalo mac and cheese where I drizzle the top with my homemade ranch and I garnish it with shredded carrots and celery. It’s really amazing.
And my buffalo anything is another. Or my [vegan] chicken and dumplings, or veggies and dumplings . . . sometimes I won’t even add the chicken, I just have veggies, and then I make a whole bunch of buttermilk biscuits. I use almond milk with vinegar. These dumplings are so good that my celebrity client asked me to make them three times in one week. She said, “I literally could sit here eating your dumplings and watching TV all night. Could you make this again for me on Saturday?” And I’m like, “sure!”
Well, that’s the idea. It’s about changing people’s minds. Eating this way is not deprivation by any stretch. It’s choosing ingredients that are flavorful and healthy and cruelty-free, but you can be decadent. That’s what I love.
Right. I’m always telling people it’s not about what we can’t have, it’s about what we CAN have, and flavoring things and making them taste good. It’s innovative to say, hey, I’m going to take this broccoli and I am going to toss it in blackened seasoning, and I’m going to blacken it just like I do chicken, and I’m going to call it blackened broccoli instead of blackened chicken.
And if people feel the need to have a vegan “meat” type of product, there are now so many options out there that will do the job.
Yeah. To scratch the itch. I agree. You can get mock shrimp now, or mock fish.
Or egg. The Broncos just added a vegan egg to their practice recipes.
It’s amazing. The Broncos are progressive enough that they actually have it in their cafeteria. But the Titans? This is the South, we’re in the Bible Belt, and we’re a little behind on things, including that thinking. So the things that are innovative with other teams, that way of thinking, it’s happening with one chef here, and that’s me.
It’s being shared with the entire team. “Hey, you can have this too, if you’re part of my meal plan.” That’s why I got an assistant. I don’t want to turn those players down.
We’re educating sports venues as well, because they don’t realize how many fans want these options. And fans don’t know how or where to find them inside those large arenas. So we highlight their plant-based options in the VeggieHappy guide for fans to easily reference
I love it! That is amazing. You don’t understand how many times I needed that. Watch folks like, Quaker for example. When they roll out an oat milk? I mean Quaker is one of the big giants. When you see the big giants jump on board, that’s when these business owners need to say, “okay, get your head out of your butt and get with the times.”
Or Tyson Foods.
Yes! Tyson started by being an investor in Beyond Meat. They’re putting themselves out there with all the other plant-based companies.
Okay, so this leads to the gameday portion of this program! You were going to share a recipe for all of VeggieHappy’s fans. Which one will it be?
I have a good one for you. It’s a Gameday Chili. I’ll take this same chili and I can make Chili Cheese Burgers or Chili Cheese Nachos, or I’ll use the vegan egg or chickpea egg and make Chili Cheese Omelets, or Chili Cheese Baked Potatoes. With that chili recipe alone, you can spin off and make like 10 different meals.
Yum! I’m looking forward to making that. Thanks so much! Any thoughts you’d like to impart before we close out?
I always leave with a note about allowing each individual to be encouraging to others, and not discouraging. Wherever they are on their vegan journey. That’s why I choose the word plegan. I tell people, you gotta be a part of your own journey. Other vegans need to be encouraging for onlookers, because you never know who’s watching or looking at you.
We live by example, and that’s how we get other people to follow our journey, by being encouraging.