Serious Eats: New York
Food Artisans: Regal Vegan
"I wanted to take my nutrition knowledge and do something sexy with it," Ella Nemcova says of her decision to build a business around her walnut-lentil paté, Faux Gras.
Nemcova, whose business is called The Regal Vegan, originally developed the product when she ran a vegan dinner delivery service and needed a substitute for chopped liver for a Russian-themed meal. "I grew up in a Russian family and there was always a spreadable meat. It's a comfort dish," she explains. Dismayed by the unsatisfying flavor and occasionally off-putting textures of other vegan patés on the market, Nemcova used umami-rich ingredients like caramelized onions, miso, gluten-free tamari, and ume plum vinegar, as well as her experiences at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, The Institute of Culinary Education, and The Natural Gourmet Institute, to make a product that manages to be both "deliciously addictive and truly, truly good for you."
Nemcova produces Faux Gras in small batches at a facility in the Bronx, making about 250 pounds at a time and filling each container by hand. "Filling machines cost $80,000," she says; "I'll use a scoop."
Ideal on crackers and vegetables, Faux Gras also makes a delicious sandwich spread for devoted carnivores, vegans, and anyone in between. "Vegan is like the universal donor of blood (Type O) in the sense that everyone can eat vegan," Nemcova says. In the end, she adds, "it's about satisfying a craving" for something rich-tasting and decadent "and hitting that spot."
Visit TheRegalVegan.com for more about Faux Gras or information about the classes Nemcova teaches that "celebrate plant-based foods and awesome ways to interact with vegetables."