Master Chef Ron DeSantis from Hungry Planet: Chefs cook meat plant based
Master Chef Ron DeSantis from Hungry Planet: Chefs cook meat plant based
A succulent meat stew is cooked on the stove. It’s Master Chef Ron DeSantis’ recipe that he shows us on Hungry Planet’s social networks. If they don’t really tell us it’s plant-based meat, we might get confused with a real beef stew. Just look at the recipes he and his team, chefs Freddie Holland, Wanda White, Sally Ruhl, are working to transform conventional dishes into plant-based dishes.
Salisbury steak, pork fried rice, a hamburger, a chicken sandwich, a baked penne bolognese, and even enchiladas Aztecas… All plant-based! There are thousands of recipes that the Hungry Planet culinary team is creating.
“I was blown away by their vision and the quality of Hungry Planet’s premium plant-based meats. Absolutely delicious, matching the taste and texture of conventional meat, with natural flavor, and a healthful profile. I’m all in!”.
Master Chef Ron DeSantis is Hungry Planet Chief Culinary Officer, the Missouri company, in the USA, of plant-based beef, pork, chicken, crab, and Italian sausage products. Founded by siblings Todd and Jody Boyman. Their project was born of their experience of eating plant-based foods for decades and their passion for vegetables. And through their expert chefs, they’ve been perfecting plant-based meats.
The siblings say that this has allowed hundreds of chefs and many customers to make a swap for any plant-based recipe and cuisine, as some chefs have commented on their experience:
Jason Wyrick, World-Renowned Vegan chef, NYT Bestselling Author, creates dishes ranging from smoked shredded chicken tacos to stuffed burgers to meatballs.
“I’m personal chef to (one of) the top PGA golfers in the world, I feed him EXTREMELY HEALTHY OPTIONS and wanted to introduce Hungry Planet to his diet. He didn’t even know I was feeding him plant-based protein. when I told him, he found it hard to believe”, says Chef Michael Parks, Private chef to PGA golfers.
Master Chef Ron DeSantis is at the helm of crafting the cooking of the future, having graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, the leading culinary university in the world. He has a brilliant and extensive CV, having cooked for numerous governors and the diplomatic corps at the White House, at Camp David. He was Director of Culinary Excellence and Quality Assurance for Yale Dining at Yale University. And he has traveled to several countries as Director of Education Services in Singapore and in Sigüenza, Spain. An excellent chef, always dedicated to cooking, by sea, air, and land.
Ron, at 17 years old, you learned to cook in the United States Marine Corps. What’s it like to cook for Marines?
Cooking for Marines is like cooking for every other guest. The food has to taste delicious, be properly done, and presented appetizingly. The difference is the quantity. As a Marine cook, we prepared food for a company or battalion. That meant hundreds of portions. This is where I learned about batch or progressive cooking. When batch cooking the cooks prepare food in timed increments to ensure proper doneness, seasoning, and presentation. The food will be fresher and hotter as well. The cookbook I wrote, “Modern Batch Cookery” is rooted in my training as a US Marine.
You lived in Germany for 5 years to perfect your cooking and then graduated as a CIA-certified Master Chef. How do you take the leap from chef to Master Chef?
Achieving Master Chef certification is the result of years of mentorship and mastering the culinary craft. For me, it was not so much as a leap as it was a progression. My mentors guided me and gave me at time blistering feedback on my readiness, organization, cooking applications, seasoning of the food, and how I presented the finished food. By accepting and implementing the feedback of mentors I progressed in my mastery of the culinary craft. Master Chef Certification is a complete commitment to the culinary craft and the willingness to engage in continuous improvement of oneself as a chef, mentor, and student.
What do the Hungry Planet team do?
The Hungry Planet culinary team EATS! That is so important to our R&D and continuous improvement process. Hungry Planet’s culinarians work to transform conventional dishes into plant-based dishes. That means crafting food that is familiar, comforting, and delicious. We also understand that perfection is a journey and with that in mind, we continuously look to improve our line up of premium plant-based meats. Like all chefs, farmers, ranchers, and other artisans, we are never satisfied and drive innovation to make our plant-based meats the best in the world.
What is the added value of Hungry Planet? Compared to the well-known Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods.
We all have our strengths. That said, I firmly believe Hungry Planet has exceptional value to culinarians. Hungry Planet has a lineup of 8 distinct plant-based meats. Significantly more options than anyone in the plant-based meat market. Why is this a significant value? Because chefs and operators have creative options. Also, chefs have a huge flavor palette which translates into delicious Global Cuisines.
As a culinary director. Let’s talk about your favorite recipe Hungry Planet spicy Lamb™ and lentils. Why do you like it so much?
This dish has SO MUCH going for it. First, the Hungry Planet Lamb delivers exceptional taste. It is quickly sautéed with lentils and spices, then at the last minute fresh chilled cucumber, cilantro, and parsley are added to create a texture and temperature contrast. When it’s finished with tangy yogurt, it looks and tastes great.
What cooking techniques do you use to create these plant-based recipes?
Hungry Planet plant-based meats work using all cooking methods. That is a great advantage, a chef can start recipe development with ingredients or with the cooking method.
Ron, when you were at Yale Hospitality as Director of Culinary Excellence, your menus were made with over 85% vegetable-based foods. Here is where you became interested in the vegetable world?
As Yale Hospitality’s Director of Culinary Excellence, I was able to implement plant-forward menus that started while I taught Healthy Cooking at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). From 1994-1999, at the CIA, I taught students Techniques of Healthy Cooking in a public restaurant on campus. During that period I studied the impact of diet on our health and as a result adopted a plant-forward diet for me and my family. It was rewarding to have the opportunity to implement a menu plan that will positively impact students’ well-being. The plant-based menus at Yale are proof that plants can play a significant role when preparing over 14,000 meals a day.
Plant-based meat is booming in the United States at the height of the pandemic. Have you noticed if your consumers’ interest in your products has increased in these times?
A silver lining of the pandemic has been people’s renewed interest in eating better. I honestly believe people want to eat healthier foods, and studies support this but the pandemic has given more meaning to what is truly delicious, healthful, and more sustainable eating. I’m convinced that once consumers taste Hungry Planet plant-based meats, they will become a regular part of their diet.
Thank you very much for the interview and we hope to see you soon in Spain and/or Europe.
By Fabiola Gálvez