Last Saturday the Coorabell Hall hosted an Australian first in cooking: Mayor Simon Richardson presented certificates at the graduation demonstration of people who have, over the past year, completed a vegan chef and lifestyle course set up in the Byron Shire.
It is the only such course offered in Australia, and it has seen people flying in from all corners of Australia as well as from Europe and Hong Kong.
Veet Karen, the owner/creator of Veet’s Cuisine catering business and Veet’s Vegan Cooking School, says that throughout the nine-module chef training no animal products have been used.
The course is for people wanting to be vegan chefs, that is to only work with plant-based products. Seven of these people showed off their skills to their guests at the lunchtime graduation ceremony.
Traditionally it has been difficult for people to train to be vegan chefs through the conventional system as they still have to be present when meat and animal byproducts are being cooked.
Veet herself has extensive knowledge, expertise and creativity in the kitchen, combined with twelve years of teaching experience, and says that she has offered the course to make it possible for students to follow their passion and train in an area they love to work in.
The graduating trainees are going on to start their own businesses, some establishing cafes, one starting up a food truck, one going into the health industry teaching people to eat healthily and two others are starting catering businesses.
Another drawcard of this course also has been the opportunity to use 100 per cent organic produce that is sourced as locally as possible, showcasing Byron Shire produce to the students. The course is broken up into nine modules and in each module there is at least one morning spent at a local farmers market.
Veet Karen has also brought together a great team of other facilitators who have shared with the students their particular field of expertise from raw food to Ayurveda, fermentation to sourdough baking, gourmet Asian to homemade pasta, Italian wholefoods to specialised vegan wedding-cake making.
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The reluctant vegetarian
When Michelle Hall’s husband told her, ‘You know you’ve just eaten tofu,’ her body gave an involuntary shudder, but it turns out vegetarian food can be for everyone.
After attending the vegan cooking demonstration, Michelle reports, ‘For someone who is not a vegetarian, which also makes me not a vegan, I was certainly apprehensive about sitting down to a vegan three-course lunch. “Be open minded”, I said to myself… how bad could it be?
‘My meal was absolutely amazing. Not only did it look amazing, it was packed full of flavour, and I totally enjoyed every last bite. Veet did an amazing job teaching her class and you could tell she was very proud of their efforts. While this does not make me want to become a vegan, I am now more open minded.’