Food & Drink
Vibrant vegetarianism – the next generation
Eddie Shepherd, an award-winning modern vegetarian chef and cookbook author, learned his trade working at many of the UK’s best vegetarian restaurants. But, he says, there came a point where he realized, “If I wanted to do something really interesting, modern and high end with vegetarian food – I was going to have to try to create it myself.”
Shepherd takes his ingredients to new levels by creating spectacular inventions with them in his underground restaurant, The Walled Gardens. The small pop-up restaurant is located in a specially arranged dining area in Shepherd’s own home in Manchester. A maximum of eight guests per night sit around a communal table and enjoy a vegetarian tasting menu of 12-14 small modern courses. Shepherd himself serves and presents all the dishes to his guests and the evening makes for an intimate and unique culinary experience.
“I try to make food of the highest quality possible, and many of the guests compare it favorably to Michelin-starred restaurants, which is the level I am trying to work at,” he says.
“The most important thing to me is flavor. I want to make the most delicious food that I can, but dishes have to have an extra element of interest to them to be on my menu. That could consist of an unusual presentation, or a unique ingredient or an element of surprise. But I want my food to be vibrant and exciting for the guests as well as being delicious.”
To pull this off, Shepherd often works with different flavor combinations, which are simple yet sophisticated, such as grapes with feta cheese or coconut with cherry. “I like things to be a mixture of very natural elements and shapes contrasted with modern, angular, unusual elements,” he says.
Shepherd believes that interest in vegetarian fine dining is growing. “I think a lot of that is due to people being more interested in where their food comes from. Also, within fine dining in general, there is more of a focus on vegetables nowadays.”
The Walled Gardens is located on Alness Road in Whalley Range, Manchester.
Buy tickets at veggiechef.co.uk
Text: Jessica Johansson
Published: September 7, 2016