Described in the Daily Telegraph as "a star of the meat-free world", Gaz Oakley is a vegan chef who has amassed over 1.3 million subscribers on his YouTube cooking show, avant-garde vegan. He lives in the Welsh countryside, with his very own vegetable patch in his garden and has launched multiple recipe books.
We sat down with him to understand veganism, why he started a vegan cooking show and learn how to make three delicious festive dishes to serve this Christmas.
Q: How did you get into cooking?
G: I started cooking at the age of eight with my dad, who is a great home cook. I really enjoyed the creative aspect and seeing the reaction whenever I served food to my family. I went on to get my first chef's job in a restaurant at age 15 and it all went from there.
Q: How did you turn your love for food into a cooking show with 1.4 million subscribers?
G: After going vegan six years ago, I initially just started sharing pictures of my food on Instagram to show close friends what I was eating. But, before I knew it people from all around the world started to follow me, and were all asking for my recipes. Having grown up watching cooking shows, I decided to create my own on YouTube.
Q: What inspires your recipes?
G: What's in season mainly or maybe a nostalgic non vegan dish I crave, that I have to try and veganise.
Q: How many vegetables do you grow in your garden?
G: My first year of growing was really good, I grew about 30 different ingredients! Next year I'm going all out.
Q: Does your garden influence what goes into your cooking?
G: Yes, I realised how much tastier & healthier organic home grown produce is. Plus, it feels so rewarding.
Q: Favourite veg?
G: Any type of squash or pumpkin.
Q: Do you miss anything about eating meat? If so, what?
G: I honestly don't really miss anything any more, it's so easy to be vegan now, there's so much variety and I've found everything can be veganised.
Q: Any advice for those who would like to go veggie or vegan, but don’t know where to start?
G: I think you have to find your purpose, for me it was for animals and my health. Before, I was a big meat eater, but overnight I went vegan after watching the Gary Yourofsky speech, it really hit home. His speech made me realise that the vegan diet is the only one for me. So that was my purpose.
Q: Favourite recipe for a dinner party?
G: I love to wow my guests so making a tarte tatin is thrilling!
Q: You can have three celebrities/ personalities at your dinner party, who would you want them to be and why?
- Russell Brand, he’s funny & super smart.
- Dave Chappelle, also really funny.
- Joe Rogan, I'd like to show him how good vegan food can be & also I'm sure he has great stories after interviewing so many people.
Q: If you were to cook a three course Christmas dinner, what would you make? Share recipes below:
- My Luxurious Parsnip & Vanilla Soup, trust me it works
- Shallot Tarte Tatin for the wow factor
- And my boozy tiramisu
And with that said, here's Gaz's three delicious festive recipes to make this Christmas.
Let us know how you get on by tagging @swyft_home on Instagram.
Gaz Oakley’s Parsnip & Vanilla Soup with Cranberries & Hazelnuts
Ingredients, serves 6
- 8 parsnips, peeled and chopped evenly
- 2 tbsp Rapeseed Oil or Water
- 4 banana shallots, cut small
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Salt & pepper
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 vanilla pod
- 2 cups/480ml vegetable stock
- 2 cups/480ml almond milk
- 1/2 cup/60g chopped hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup/50g cranberries
- Few Sprigs of thyme or rosemary
Sweat the shallots in a large saucepan until translucent over a medium heat. Season with salt & pepper then add the parsnips & thyme
Turn the heat down very low & cover the saucepan. Allow the parsnips to cook until almost soft, stirring often. Then add your stock & milk. Spilt your vanilla pod down the middle lengthways & using the back of your knife scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds & the pod to the saucepan.
Bring the soup to the boil then removing from the heat & also picking out the vanilla pod.
Carefully add the mix to your blender & blend. Once smooth, put the soup back into your saucepan and check seasoning, add salt, pepper & the lemon juice to bring out the flavours.
Serve with Hazelnuts, herbs, cranberries & a drizzle of good quality olive oil.
Gaz Oakley’s Christmas Shallot Tarte Tatin
Ingredients, serves 6
- 5-6 banana shallots, peeled and cut in half lengthways - root trimmed
- 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp vegan friendly brandy (optional)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig Rosemary
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 block shop bought vegan puff pastry
- Sprinkle of Plain Flour for rolling
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C.
It’s very important when making tarte tatin that you use a really good heavy bottomed non stick frying pan, it’s also very important that it's oven proof.
Roll the pastry out to around 4mm thick, cut the party into a rough circle shape. I cut around the pan to make sure the pastry is big enough, I allow a little extra around 1” bigger than the pan.
Preheat the pan over a medium heat.
Add 3 tbs of the butter & when the pan is hot add the shallots cut side up, make sure you have enough shallots to comfortably fill/cover the base of the pan. Cook the shallots for 3-4 minutes then sprinkle over the brown sugar. Flip over the shallots carefully using a pallet knife.
Try to arrange them neatly in the pan making sure that the base is covered and there aren’t any large gaps.
Turn the heat down low then add the balsamic vinegar & brandy. Allow the alcohol to cook off
leaving behind the sweet brandy flavour. Add the thyme & rosemary. Let the onions caramelise for
4-5 minutes. Sprinkle over the salt & pepper. Then turn off the heat & add the remaining butter.
Pick up your pastry then carefully lay it over the pan. Quickly and carefully tuck the pastry down right into the edges, use a wooden spoon so you don’t have to touch the hot pan.
Place the pan into your oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is lovely & golden.
Once cooked, remove the tart from the oven & allow it to cool for 2-3 minutes before placing your serving board/plate on top of the pan (make sure it’s larger than the pan).
Put on an oven glove on to protect the arm holding the board (some caramel goodness may drip out and it’s super hot). Then quickly, carefully and confidently turn it out.
Serve straight away.
Watch how to make the Shallot Tarte Tintan by heading to our Instagram page.
Gaz Oakley’s Tiramisu
Ingredients, serves 6
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 cup vegan margarine
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 & 3/4 cups self raising flour, or GF equivalent
- 1 cup unrefined raw caster sugar
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 tin coconut milk, cream reserved - water part discarded
- 1 pack (170g) vegan cream cheese
- 1 tbsp cacao powder
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 1/2 cup/120ml good quality coffee, brewed over ice
- 4 tbsp rum, or to taste
- Dark chocolate, shaved over the top
- Coffee beans
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C & line a 5mm deep baking tray.
First up the sponge!
Add the wet ingredients to a small sauce pan & place over a low heat. In a mixing bowl add the dry ingredients.
Once the margarine has melted in the saucepan add the mixture to the dry ingredients. Fold the wet & dry together. Pour the mix into your lined baking tray & spread the mixture out.
Place the tray into the oven for 12-15 minutes, once cooked & golden turn the sponge onto a wire rack to cool completely.
In a mixing bowl add the coconut cream, cream cheese, cacao powder & icing sugar. Whisk the mixture well until fully incorporated. Add a few tablespoons of coffee & liquor, then taste. Adjust the coffee/liquor flavour to your taste.
Cut discs of sponge to fit in your serving glasses. Fill you glasses with layers of cream, additional drizzle of coffee & sponge. Top the Tiramisu with Chocolate shavings & a couple coffee beans.
The tiramisu will keep in the fridge for a day.
If you've been inspired to cook up more vegan feasts, head over to @avantgardevegan.