Vegan chef Amber Poupore takes over the kitchen at GreenSpace Cafe

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  • Courtesy photo
  • GreenSpace co-owners, Dr Joel Kahn and Amber Poupore.

Chef Amber Poupore’s vegan Shelby Township restaurant, Clean Plate, only closed a few months ago and Poupore still owns the Royal Oak Cacao Tree raw restaurant, but is already on her next project – managing the kitchen at the GreenSpace Cafe and completely redesign its menu.

When the new menu launches on Tuesday, diners will find that Poupore has eliminated fake meats and other processed foods. Instead, it will be built around whole ingredients and full of options that are oil-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and generally the healthier side of vegan cooking.

“I feel like, overall, people are drawn to comfort foods … but I’m not a fan of fake meats,” she says, adding that she prefers plates made with “simple and recognizable” ingredients. His mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli tempeh sauce are one example.

Poupore also brings in some of her clients’ favorites from the Clean Plate, like pesto pasta, black bean burger, portobello burger, mushroom stroganoff, and arugula Alfredo. Parts of the current GreenSpace menu will remain, but with upgrades. Poupore says she’s keeping the flatbread section but introducing all-new toppings and flavor profiles. Other items, like the Big Max, will stay, but Poupore’s version will hold a pancake with more body and better texture. She says the gnocchi are a bit dull right now, so she spins them with a vegan cream sauce and adds more salads and fresh options to the list.

Poupore previously worked as a consultant for the downtown Ferndale restaurant and spent four weeks in her kitchen, so she’s no stranger to the operation, and she considers the Kahn family who own GreenSpace to be her “family.”

Part of the move was also about timing – Poupore says GreenSpace doesn’t have a chef, their staff are down and the kitchen needs new leadership. The pool of talented vegan kitchen helpers isn’t deep, so she felt compelled to do it for the vegan community.

“The restaurant industry is currently lacking in talented people in general, but when you add the vegan community, find someone with culinary experience – there are so few people available,” she says.

The changes also include a new partnership with Rising Star Academy, a Centerline culinary school, production facility, urban farm and more that “supports those at risk by providing hands-on training through a workplace learning program.”

The kids of Rising Stars will bake many GreenSpace breads, grow her microgreens, prepare her mirepoix, and more, and Poupore says she is “overjoyed to be able to help them.”

While the closure of The Clean Plate – which follows a lease dispute with the landlord – is a huge disappointment, Poupore says she begins to suspect that the universe could have done its job.

“Now I see this as a divine intervention that I needed to be at GreenSpace – the loss of Clean Plate is what got me into this position,” she says.

You can read our 2017 Poupore profile here.

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Todd A. Mitchell

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