Today I had the opportunity to attend a luncheon hosted by Mr. Wally Fry, founder and owner of Fry’s Vegetarian. Here’s some information on the company:
- It’s a family-owned South African company, whose meat-analog products are available in 23 countries worldwide
- Their products are made using premium quality non-GM ingredients, with no artificial colours, preservatives or MSG, and they’re low in fat and cholesterol-free
- They carry endorsements from all key religious groups and some of the highest authorities of vegetarianism in the world, including The Vegan Society (the guys who coined the term “vegan” in the first place!)
A bit of background
I had tried Fry’s Vegetarian Golden Crumbed Schnitzel and Chicken-Style Burgers before and was already a fan of them. In fact, the Schnitzels have come in handy on more than one occasion for a quickie meal. I had also tried the Chicken-Style Strips, but found them to be too greasy and salty for my liking. Regardless, I was excited to taste more food from the range and learn more about this dynamic company.
The luncheon took place at the Hunky Dory Social Club in Darlinghurst (Sydney, Australia). While it was rather cloudy on the walk over (I live just 15 minutes away), the sun was out in full-force by the time I made it upstairs to the open-roof terrace, where I was promptly served a virgin+vegan Bloody Mary. The funky urban setting was lovely and I loved the fresh flowers at the tables.
Most of the tables at the front were already full, so I proceeded to sit by myself at an empty table. At the same time, a woman from Healthy Food Guide magazine sat down across from me, and we introduced ourselves. While she was attending the event from an advertising perspective, she said that she was also interested in learning how to prepare vegetarian foods for her family, who currently eats a “traditional” meat-and-veg diet. Shortly thereafter, a gentleman from Animals Australia joined our table. We discussed our favorite food and restaurants in the city, and based on his recommendation, I will be eating at Peace Harmony very soon!
We were eager to try the food, which featured various Fry’s Vegetarian products:
When the food arrived, it was well-presented and served in a tapas-style, as a big plate from which we could serve ourselves. I was already a fan of the Crumbed Schnitzel but I thought the presentation was a bit odd. Regardless, I liked the idea of using cauliflower puree in that way and it’s something I’ll keep in mind for the future.
The Chicken Style Strips were well presented and looked liked something you might get at a vegan-friendly Asian restaurant. The strips really look like (and have the consistency of) fried chicken strips. However, as per my comment above, everyone at the table thought that the strips were overly salty. Having said that, I think they would be great served with a sweet sauce (like a Thai coconut curry), to balance them out a little bit.
I really liked the Traditional Sausages wrapped in vegan pastry, even though they were served plain, without the chilli carrot puree. They were hands-down the best vegan sausage I’ve had in Australia (other brands shall remain nameless, but let’s just say they were always tossed-out after one bite!) These, on the other hand, have great taste and consistency. I have some ideas for these, so stay tuned for the recipes!
Towards the middle of the meal, Wally Fry – the owner and founder of Fry’s Vegetarian welcomed us to the event and provided some background on why he first went vegetarian and how he first started the company with his wife, back in 1991. It’s evident that Wally is committed to the the vegan cause, and to to the future of the planet, including the human and non-human animals that live on it. It’s so inspiring to see someone who has followed his passion and succeed in changing people’s minds in terms of what it means to “eat vegetarian”. Check out the video below for an inspiration speech by Wally.
Back to the food. The Chicken-Style Nuggets taste very much like the Crumbed Schnitzel. I like how they were wrapped in thin zucchini slices, and while I enjoyed the fennel salad, I think they would have been really delicious served with tomato sauce and/or vegan aioli, just like deep-fried zucchini sticks.
I’m not normally a huge veggie burger fan (unless they’re Amy’s California Veggie Burger) but I was pleasantly surprised by the Traditional Burgers. While they were a bit on the dry-side, they were very well complimented by the Spanish onion jam. The Chicken-Style Burgers went too quickly to snap a photo but they were one of my favorites, topped with awesome caramelized pineapple. Yum!
The red wine soaked caramelized pears with sorbet were a great end to the meal. I must figure out how to make those pears!
Overall, it was a lovely event and I enjoyed the food. Some additional comments:
- The Golden Crumbed Schnitzel, Chicken-Style Nuggets and Chicken Style Burgers have similar tastes and consistencies, so ultimately, it all depends on how you plan on using them. As you can see above, there are many creative ways for them to be served.
- Having said that, it would have been nice to try the wider product range, such as the Country Mushroom Pie, Pepper Gravy Pie, or Chunky Strips. If I can get my hands on some, I’ll write a separate post on them.
- While the breaded items may not be things that I’d eat everyday, they’re a great options for quick meals or a way to transition from meat towards a vegetarian diet.
- I liked the burgers, and really liked the sausages, so I’ll definitely purchase those in the future. As I stated above, stay tuned for future recipes using them…
I’d like to thank Fry’s Vegetarian, for the opportunity to sample their vegan products and hear Wally’s inspiration message first-hand!
If you’d like more information on Fry’s Vegetarian foods, check out their website and watch this video of Mr. Fry himself:
Note: I was not compensated for writing this post… other than the lovely free vegan meal, that is :)