Kristen Thibeault at work in Napa Kristen Thibeault in the Almost Famous kitchen in Napa

Boston has its share of award-winning chefs and Kristen Thibeault, chef/owner of Lynn-based vegan catering company Kombu Kitchen, recently joined their ranks. Thibeault proved she could hold her own among chefs of all creeds when she won San Pellegrino’s Almost Famous chef competition in Napa,a mainstream cooking competition.

Which is proof that it's no longer weird to be vegan. Thibeault, 46, became vegan following successful treatment for cancer (uterine and breast). Indeed, the American Cancer Society recommends a plant-based diet.

The proof of in the vegan pudding lies in savvy preparation and intoxicating flavor, as is found in Kombu's pumpkin polenta with apple compote. The sweetness comes from Thibeault’s custom blend of Stevia, raw agave, and xylitol, with just a hint of maple and molasses. Spicing combines cinnamon, cardamom, clove and nutmeg, enhancing the sweeter notes nicely.

 

The competition-winning dish was porcini crusted "sweetbreads” made of seitan — which is compressed gluten, the protein mostly found in wheat. Kombu Kitchen’s current menu includes sautéed-glazed tempeh, another protein source, but made from fermented soybeans. It’s paired with vegetable crudités and a creamy textured Tuscan bean dip lightly seasoned with basil.

If you want to go even greener, you might try theGreen Goddess soup (which sounds a bit, um, super-groovy, I know) — a lovely spring soup of green beans, broccoli, spinach, kale and herbs.And if this all sounds a bit earthy, know this: you'll be getting a dose of tasty vitamin oomph with each dish.

Kombu Kitchen | 20 Wheeler St. Lynn | 617-939-9138 | kombukitchen.com

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