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Hail Seitan! New food truck serves up vegan versions of classic sandwiches

Mitch Hooper

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Juicy and tender, full of protein, and cut perfectly on a deli slicer—these are not the typical descriptions you think of when talking about a vegan eatery. Usually, what comes to mind are green plates featuring an array of vegetables, or some sort of play on tofu to resemble a meat counterpart. And while tofu and tempeh have carved out an audience of eaters for various dishes, a new wheat gluten-based alternative is on the market and it’s giving those two previous options a run for their money. It’s seitan, and a new vegan food truck, Seitan’s Realm, is changing the way meat-eaters and vegans alike go about getting their protein.

For the record, yes, you read that correctly. It’s Seitan’s Realm, not Satan. And the offerings here should be sinful considering how delicious they are. Options include a Philly cheesesteak complete with vegan cheese sauce, onions, and peppers on a soft hoagie, or a gyro piled high with lettuce, tomato, and an addictive tzatziki sauce in a fresh pita. And the loaded curly fries? Don’t even get me started. While all these dishes are vegan and made with fresh ingredients, the true star of the meal is the seitan.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

What is seitan? I thought you’d never ask. Seitan comes from China. A loaf of seitan is made by laboriously kneading wheat our and water together to form a dough. The starch is then rinsed away, leaving behind a stringy mass of gluten which can then be flavored and cooked to your liking. And if it’s up to Kevin Ridenbaugh, co-founder of Seitan’s Realm, he’s making vegan bites that will entice even the staunchest of meat eaters with tempting recreations of gyro lamb meat, cheesesteak steak, and even smoky bacon with chewy and crispy bits.

The food truck started for Kevin, and his wife and co- founder Amber, in mid-May 2019 where they quickly found success in the parking lot at Virtue Salon in Clintonville. But, it didn’t all begin there for Kevin and Amber. Three years prior to starting the food truck, Kevin said he began experimenting with recipes featuring seitan. Through a trial-and-error process, he said he finally perfected his craft and his first “a-ha!” moment came after making his now popular gyro.

Since then, the menu has expanded with the aforementioned cheesesteak, but also a take on Arby’s beef n’ cheddar, as well as a reuben complete with vegan thousand island dressing and sauerkraut.

“We’ve got things to about as good as we can possibly get it,” Kevin explained. “We can always tweak a couple things here and there, but for the most part I’m really proud of everything we’re putting out.”

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And rightfully so. A cursory glance at the Instagram page and website shows just how well the sandwiches stack up to their meat inspiration. The sandwiches are large, stacked high, and topped with all the fixings we know and love on these dishes. While the flavor is the most important part, getting people to break away from their traditional meat-eating habits is an uphill battle, and having eye- catching dishes helps in the long-run.

“It’s like people look at our menu and they see gyros or reubens and they know what that is, so they order it without knowing that we’re vegan,” Kevin said. “We toyed back and forth on if we should actually put that we are vegan on [the truck].” The verdict was to skip the label, and let people’s tastes, rather than their “preconceived notions” of vegan food guide them instead.

A large reason for this decision is because what Kevin and Amber ate before going vegan. He said his diet mostly consisted of what he calls junk food and making the switch to vegan was difficult since he couldn’t chow down on some of his favorite foods. He was craving things like gyros, but didn’t have anywhere to go to get such a dish. So he did what he could: started making it on his own.

“It took me about three years to really perfect the menu to have what we have now,” Kevin explained. “What we’re putting out now is the best possible thing we can put out.”

Now, Seitan’s Realm stays busy with its food truck. From continuing to grow its popularity at Virtue Salon, serving up vegan bites on Thursdays at Nocterra Brewing, and most recently becoming the follow up to Woodhouse Vegan at Oddfellows on Monday, business is boomin’. And the connection to Oddfellows is largely thanks to Woodhouse Vegan. Now with Woodhouse finalizing its opening date at the new brick-and-mortar location, the owners made sure that the vegan Mondays lived on at the Short North bar.

“It was kind of funny, I got a call from Matt, and he was telling me that Woodhouse was moving out and they wanted to do a pop-up and I was just like, ‘Dude, there’s no way Oddfellows is calling! We’ve only been doing this for a month.’ ” Kevin recalled.

This support is representative of the larger vegan community growing in the city. It isn’t a competition or a race to the top; rather it’s a chance to give a new business opportunity and make sure great vegan food gets out to hungry people and spreading that plant-based love.

“Without their support, I don’t know if we’d be here right now,” Kevin said.

For Kevin and others in the vegan community, it’s a bigger picture mindset.

“We don’t really look at each other like competition,” Kevin explained. “It’s like, look—the more people we can get to eat this stuff, the more sales everybody will have. We’re not going to be cutthroat, you know? It’s like let’s do this thing together.”

Seitan’s Realm can be found at Oddfellow’s Liquor Bar on Mondays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. To find out where the food truck will be next, follow it on Instagram at @seitansrealm, or the website at seitansrealm.com.

millennial | writer | human

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Food & Drink

See what “big changes” are coming to The Market Italian Village

Regina Fox

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Fans of The Market Italian Village certainly aren't enjoying this temporary closure while it undergoes renovations, but the restaurant promises the wait will be worth it.

The neighborhood restaurant recently announced in a release "big changes" coming to the space to create more "experienced-based dining."

"We’ve teamed up with incredible designers, architects, and artists to give our space a beautiful update and we can’t keep our mouths shut about it any longer!" wrote The Market Italian Village on Facebook.

The Market is currently closed and will reopen to guests the weekend after Thanksgiving with two very special additions:

  • Columbus’ FIRST chef's table - A unique experience to get up close and personal with one of the city’s most unique chefs, Tyler Minnis. The reservation-based tasting counter seats four and will face toward the kitchen, giving guests direct access to Chef Tyler throughout the dining experience as he creates a four-course tasting menu. Available for $50-60 per person on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Community Table Seating - Perfect for group dining, this intimate booth is reservations-only for large parties, seating up to 16 guests. Those seated at the community table will order from a pre-set family-style menu, pre-determined by Chef Tyler on a monthly basis.

The post went on to say the restaurant "just scratched the surface" of its announcements.

https://www.facebook.com/MarketItalianVillage/posts/2719875781402957:0

The Market Italian Village is located at 1022 Summit St. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.

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Food & Drink

Too Good To Eat: SuperChef’s stuffed Scriddle Pancakes

@findyourfork

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Pancake my eyes off you, sweet cakes, cause no one stacks up to you.

Feast your eyes on the thickest thiccest pancakes that Columbus has to offer. SuperChef Ohio serves up these jumbo stacks of comfort in style, by combining the culinary flavors of savory and sweet—essentially, the best of both worlds.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuRtmUYAMhu/?igshid=19h0q3u82h40e

Stuffed to the brim with scrambled eggs, deliciously sweet candied bacon, and house-made sausage all covered up in warm maple syrup, these cakes are not to be missed.

Picture this: four of the thiccest, fluffiest, and softest pancakes stacked one on top of each other with hot maple syrup cascading down the sides.

Grab that knife in your hand and take that first slice down all four pancakes all at once. Watch as the warmth from the layered cakes is released, and along with it all the combined flavors of sweet and salty bacon and sausage.

Shove a generous helping of the cakes into your mouth and close your eyes. Feel instantly comforted by the penultimate flavors of breakfast all in one bite.

Take a big swig of coffee (or milk, whatever suits you) and prepare for another bite of breakfast dream come true. Fancy yourself a one-stop-shop for all your breakfast needs? SuperChef Ohio has got you covered.

SuperChefs has locations in Downtown and Gahanna. Visit mysuperchefs.com for more information.

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5 tasty merchants announced for North Market Dublin

Regina Fox

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You now have five more reasons to be excited for Dublin's North Market with its recent announcement of merchants. North Market veterans and newbies alike are coming together for the first phase of committed businesses for the Bridge Park public market.

Momo Ghar, Dough Mama, Market Bar, Coastal Local Seafood, and The Dublin Farmer's Daughter will occupy five of the 19 stalls.

“Like we have done for 143 years at our downtown location, we are successfully curating the best-in-class fresh meats, seafood, bakery, and produce categories for the Bridge Park facility that will provide a unique experience for visitors,” said North Market Executive Director Rick Harrison Wolfe.

In case you're not hip to the dynamite dumplings, Momo Ghar will be opening a third location inside North Market Bridge Park. As Food & Wine so affectionately wrote, “Once you try this food, you will never have any problem finding your way back here.”

Dough Mama is yet another Central Ohio favorite, serving "stick-to-your-bones" comfort food with a twist, according to the website. Guests can enjoy homemade biscuits, sandwiches, soups, desserts, pastries, and more.

Market Bar will be quenching the adult thirsts of North Market Bridge Park goers with a variety of craft beer and fine wines to go. This concept is owned by Pete Volker and Wayne Lin.

Central Ohio seafood distributor Ian Holmes, owner of Coastal Local Seafood, will bring his expertise to the North Market Bridge Park merchant community. Upon opening their first retail shop at North Market Bridge Park, Coastal Local Seafood will be able to provide the same wonderful seafood ingredients for home chefs and will also serve on-site menu items such as lobster rolls and crab cakes. Dublin residents and guests can look forward to enjoying fresh oysters at the New England-themed raw bar.

The Dublin Farmer's Daughter is a new concept from the owners of Copia Farm, partners Caitlin Bergman and Dan McLeod. This venture will focus on the highest quality ingredients sourced from our farm and other local farms said Bergman in a release.

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