Chef Wanda White: The Plantbased “Mad Scientist” in the kitchen

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Chef Wanda White has an incredible story to tell.  You see she was charged with the task of building out a new menu for a dining hall she managed at The University of North Texas.  Now, this you would imagine is a simple task, I mean Chef Wanda is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, the Art Institute of Dallas, Formally Trained in Paris, France and a Certified Executive Pastry Chef, so it’s a simple request on the surface for someone with such an incredible background.  Except there was one “twist'”: this new menu was going to be 100% Plantbased – Vegan and Chef Wanda was not Plantbased – Vegan herself, she really didn’t have any exposure to this and so a little like being asked to participate in a debate, except you are told at the last second you have to argue against your particular point of view.

So, Chef Wanda decided to embrace this task as a challenge and immediately set out to learn about Plantbased – Vegan and how she could design an entire Dining Hall Menu around it.  The Dining Hall was shut down at the end of the spring semester and so Chef Wanda was given three (3) months to create, test and implement the new menu.  She dove into everything she could get her hands on, including a stack of books from our mutual buddy, Ken Botts (Hear Ken’s Podcast Episode Here) and then the day arrived.  The Dining Hall was named “Mean Greens” and was the FIRST all Plantbased – Vegan Dining Hall on a college campus in the nation and so there was definitely a lot of “Hmmmm, how will this go over” thoughts, especially remember this is all being headed up by someone NOT Plantbased – Vegan.  So, what was the result?

The result was an overwhelming success!  Mean Greens began to feed more people than ever before (this particular dining hall was also located on a remote part of the campus and so many diners literally had to go well out of their way in order to eat there).  Students AND Professors alike were loving the food and frequenting the Dining Hall and then there was yet another great development: a greater than 30% increase in the non-food plan customers.  This is a great “demographic” for Mean Greens because these are people that spend their own money, ie they’re not “confined” to just Campus Dining or a Dining Hall that might be close in proximity on their meal plan that is often paid for by their parents, these diners can eat ANYTHING they want ANYWHERE and so they are choosing to eat at Mean Greens and all this added up meant: SUCCESS!

Life then had some other unique developments for Chef Wanda: in the midst of all of this endeavor, she became Plantbased  herself and shares a great story in our podcast of the reaction from her husband the first time she came to this realization.  Chef Wands also eventually came on to join Ken Botts and a host of many other awesome people at the Humane Society Of The US and is now the Executive Chef for the HSUS.  She has since trained several THOUSAND Chefs all over the place on how to prepare and cook Plantbased Meals and helping to create a Two (2) Day Chef Training Program that eventually debuted at Harvard University and now continues to use her skillset and knowledge to spread information and knowledge and really make the World a better place.  A reminder of how cool life really is and that we never know the truth path that is in store for us and many thanks to Chef Wanda for being open to trying new things and new paths! Thank You Chef Wanda!

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