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Vegan chef Day Radley

In celebration of Veganuary, we head to Battersea for the lowdown on London’s first Vegan Chef Institute 

If one was charting the rise of veganism a turning point may well have been clocked when, for the first time in the show’s history, the Great British Bake Off held vegan week last October. While a vegan flan may be some way off being as ubiquitous as a Danish pastry, the iconic programme had taken the temperature of the nation and found veganism was on the steady rise. Nowhere more so it seems than in Battersea where professional chef, Day Radley, has opened the Vegan Chef Institute in Battersea with co-founder and health coach Chantal Di Donato. Their aim is to train a new generation of vegan chefs and teach keen foodies the art of plant-based food. 

 The institute’s first course is a fast-track vocational course designed to propel keen home cooks or early career chefs into their first job as a professional vegan chef. “It’s a vocational course. We have a person’s career in mind – there is a real lack of professional vegan chefs at the moment so that’s where the institute will come in. We are also keen to develop a course in teacher training, so we can fill the skills gap by producing chefs who can teach,” explains Day.

Vegan chef

Richmond resident Day has worked as a private chef, a head chef in three continents and has been vegan for 24 years. She resolutely bucks the trend of being a preachy vegan, and says barriers are coming down when it comes to being V curious so it’s more important than ever that better vegan cooking is out in the public domain. 

“As a vegan chef you are acutely aware that the dish you serve may convince someone to become vegan or help them to remain vegan. Each good plate of food adds weight to the vegan choice, it says ‘this is delicious, you are not missing out, so yes, you can do this’,” Day explains. 

“It’s fine to dip your toe in and start by eating more plant-based meals, or going vegan during the week.”

“For the V-curious, wanting to dip a tentative toe, if that dish is bland they will ascertain that all vegan food is bland and steer clear of it in the future,” she continues.  

Vegan chef

“Eating more plant-based meals is very much becoming a mainstream thing. It’s better for you and it’s not the Guardian reporting on veganism now, the Daily Mail is covering it and the Mirror published some of my recipes,” Day adds.

The first Fast Track Vegan Chef course runs from 13 January, every Sunday, for 12 weeks at the institute’s Battersea kitchen site and Days says recreational courses may follow in the future.