This month’s Tastemaker feature takes us to Palm Beach County, where we stop and speak with vegan chef Nina Kauder of Bean Scene Productions. Nina isn’t new to the Florida Food & Farm family; in fact, we’ve been working with her for quite some time. At first, we were just talking about food, because isn’t that what everyone does? Later, we went delving into the vegan food scene with her and attending the Seed Food & Wine Festival. She has even introduced us to laughing yoga and has done some writing for us. But today, we’re putting her in the spotlight because this woman of many talents deserves a little praise.
In addition to her many other ventures, Chef Nina Kauder’s newest project includes the Bean Scene Productions’ Vegan Kitchen Collective, where she’ll be bringing together a collection of talented vegan chefs — and we’re going to be among the first to check it out when it opens in May.
Interview with Chef Nina Kauder
Tell us about your first kitchen experience.
I was born for this … I’m the product of a foodie/cookbook writer and a chemist. The world was my “lab,” and as a kid, I used to take any clean, empty jars (we recycled and used them for homemade vinaigrettes, daily) and just … add … stuff … and stash them around the house in dark corners and kitchen cabinets. I was mixing, blending, fermenting and crafting — all from a young age. OK, they weren’t exactly delicacies, much less edible, but that is how I started!
What’s your drink of choice?
I adore the intersection of wine and food, how each one improves the other. But, really, there’s nothing that makes me happier, all day long, every single day, than plain, clear, room-temperature water! My entire body thanks me for it. Everything, and I mean everything, works perfectly because of it, and my skin is my daily reward for it.
What about secret talents. Do you have any that you’re hiding from us?
As a current vegan chef these past 10 years, my entire past has melted away … Post-CIA (Culinary Institute of America), my prior successes were in Charcuterie, and making “Better Than Sex” Chocolate Truffles that New York Magazine simply wrote “must have” about, and my phone never stopped ringing.
Do you have any advice for those looking to become a chef?
Expect to thrive with a veritable Niagara Falls of creative ideas (and outlets), to skip manicures and a social life, and to be deliriously happy anyway.
As we move into the summer months, what are you most excited about?
My lifelong dream come true — finally, my own kitchen! The brand-new Bean Scene Productions Vegan Kitchen Collective just passed its health department inspections this morning! We are various talented vegan chefs, collaborating and in a groove, and rewarding our (im)patient plant-based audience. Our grand opening is to come in May – so sign up for our newsletter at beansceneproductions.com to be notified of all the festivities, the block party, tastings, classes and demos.
Tell us about some of the local farms you work with.
I only touch pesticide-free, organic produce. Conventional produce is too toxic to the farmworkers, to our planet, to me and to my clients. Although I always work with clean produce, grown organically, it’s not always certified. It is, however, always grown to rigorous standards. I have cultivated my own network of diligent, incredibly talented local growers, and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for their labors of love. These past 10 years, I’ve been beyond blessed to have all my special events and meals tied to many of our finest all-organic small farms, throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties, including most recently a glorious, five-course, all-vegan dinner for 100 people that our collective put on at Kai-Kai Farm in Indiantown.
Who’s helped you get to the place you are now?
I’m self-motivated and quite driven. Thankfully, my interests are contagious, and folks around me are touched by my visions and jump in to get involved.
It’s great seeing the community of chefs and farmers coming together recently. How do you see that community growing, and how do you work with other chefs in the area?
I believe in never having to say “I’m sorry” but rather being part of the solution. Within this network of local chefs, here in South Florida, we are a deeply caring commUNITY and are always bringing solutions to help our friends in need. It’s gratifying and exactly where I want to be in life.
Back to Bean Scene Productions — why should we love the concept, and what are you doing there that’s truly unique to the concept and to you as a chef?
Raised in a global culture, I ate vegetables at every single meal, every day; and this is my foundation, not a passing fad. I cook and eat this way, because who doesn’t love animals?! And given that Earth Day was recent, let’s connect those dots … Eating more vegan meals takes Earth Eay into the everyday celebration of our planet. Finally, major bonus and hello to personal empowerment: Change your epigenetics (changes in gene function), change your date with destiny, cheat diabetes and cancer, and have the last laugh.
Is there anything on your agenda we should know about?
Opening a practical, plant-based, healthy-lifestyles cooking school. Bean Scene Productions is a newly formed not-for-profit, and we’re accepting donations toward this mission.
Shout-out — is there a little guy you want to tell the world about?
Gio, a neighborhood 5-year old, loves animals and is inspiring his family to give up eating them. They are sharing new, loving bonds, eating deliciously and on track to thrive. Here’s to flower-power, plant-power and people-power!