CCSU chefs spice up vegan food

Published on Thursday, 14 March 2019 14:21
Written by Michelle France


NEW BRITAIN - Central Connecticut State University welcomed their chefs and chefs from neighboring universities Tuesday morning to host a free two-day plant-based culinary event.

Forward Food is an initiative of the Humane Society of the United States that offers free culinary classes and resources to universities, schools K to 12, military and correctional facilities with the goal of adding more plant-based foods to their menus.

Around 20 chefs attended Tuesday’s summit - 10 from CCSU - as well as chefs from Western Connecticut State University, the University of New Haven, and Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts.

Dorrie Nang, food and nutrition coordinator with Forward Food, said the goal is to help chefs add more plant-based meals to their menus, but it doesn’t stop there.

“We win them over with their taste buds,” she added.

CCSU General Manager Jonathan Small said he is trying to expand the vegan program on campus and at other universities. Small said vegan meals at the university used to consist of mostly rice, beans, veggies, and tofu. “It was really boring,” he said.

CCSU has an A plus rating on PETA’s Vegan Report Card. The state average in Connecticut is a B. PETA ranks colleges throughout the country based on how vegan friendly they are. They are rated by several criteria such as if they offer at least one vegan entrée per meal or if they promote vegan options.

Forward Food has provided plant-based training for over four years and trained over 7,000 chefs at over 350 venues, according to Forward Food Executive Chef Wanda White. White works with chefs around the country and Canada.

“I go by three main rules: make it fun, make it fast and keep it familiar.”

Tuesday was soup, salad and sandwich day. Menu items included Thai tofu noodle soup with lemongrass, fire-roasted corn chowder, crabbyless crab cakes and mushroom street tacos with cilantro cream sauce. Wednesday will take on an international twist with foods such as Szechuan noodles and spicy potato curry. Both days served up familiar deserts such as meringue cookies, chocolate cake and peach cobbler.

Chef Andrew DaCruz took advantage of the hands on training. On Monday, he will begin his new role as executive chef at CCSU.

“It’s amazing what you can do without using any animal-based products. The taste, the textures, and the variety of foods are all still there,” he said.

If your institution is interested in having Forward Food host a free plant-based training, call Dorrie Nang at 202-381-7145 or email

Visit for more information.

Posted in The Bristol Press, General News on Thursday, 14 March 2019 14:21. Updated: Thursday, 14 March 2019 14:24.