A Tribe Called West (Part 1)

Last week, I got an email from Chef Tanya telling us about the her upcoming cooking classes!  We first heard about the awesomeness of Chef Tanya and Native Foods from Quarry Girl's blog and have been meaning to try it out whenever we were in Los Angeles.  The last time we were in LA, our gastrocnemius was were preoccupied by The Veggie Grill and various protein drinks (PROTEIN!) so Native Foods would have to wait.  Well, we'd have to wait not much longer since we'd been planning on attending the NBA All-Star Game in LA!  Quite serendipitous that Chef Tanya's class would be held that same day.  So C and I woke up early from SD and made the 2 hour trek to Culver City!  

We arrived earlier than the 11am start time, so we dropped by a nearby Trader Joe's.  This had to be the biggest Trader Joe's ever!  And much more luxurious than the ones in San Diego.  The lanes were much wider and even the sample table had large portions - almost a meal in and of itself!  C sampled the hash browns and eggs (very good, she said) and I had a mean cup of Joe.  It was delicious.  

With our bellies warmed up in the foodie form of dynamic stretching and calisthenics, we headed back across the street and were welcomed by a line forming outside Native Foods.  We were surprised since we didn't figure for this many people to have been there on a Sunday morning.  Needless to say, we were even more surprised when we turned around in a few minutes to see the line wrap around the block!  Yikes!  Glad we got there early for seating...

 We got pretty sweet seats way up front and at around 11:15am, the star had arrived!

 Chef Tanya is such a natural in front of a crowd.  I found myself transfixed by her ability to relate and communicate with the audience.  For such a food celebrity, she's so down to earth and a wonderful educator.  And generous too!  Native Foods passed out samples to every attendee.  Here's the first dish, Tomato Garlic  Bread Soup!
 Washed it down with some chai tea made with agave.  Delectable!
 Washed the chai down with lavender lemonade-also made with agave.  This was particularly great - it was C's favorite and she typically doesn't like beverages outside of water and green tea.
 Chili verde vegan was incredible, though we like things a tad more spicy.  I suppose you can't be making really spicy dishes for the general public though.
 Choco-banana baked pudding was great, though I am a traditionalist with puddings.  Pudding should stay in pudding form, that's what I say.  *nods authoritatively*  Love the serving side...such a great touch of Chef Tanya's personality.
 Watermelon fresca, made with agave!  This was a bit too sweet for C, but just perfect for me.  :)
 After the cooking demo, Chef Tanya took the time to sign copies of her book and chop it up with patrons.  She makes everyone feel at home, with an infectious personality.
 Chef Tanya's cookbook is a steal at the price she sells it for.  Other vegetarian/vegan cookbooks by chefs of her esteem are easily priced 2-3x more than what she sells it for.  But that's a reflection of Chef Tanya - she wants to make the lifestyle accessible and within reason for everyone.  It's woven into the fabric of the restaurant from the table tops to the personnel.  Everything and everybody is super relatable.  ...and FUN!
 By this time, it was lunch time and C and I made the decision (it wasn't a tough one) to stay there and mow down on the chow.  I got the Gandhi Bowl and a side of chili!  Yes, I sided a meal with another meal.  We all have our quirks, let's not judge me.
 C rocked the Wild Buffalo Wrap.  The tempeh tasted exactly like chicken - we were floored!

 After snagging one last pic of the recipe of the week, C and I headed west to our next destination...Staples Center - the site of the NBA All-Star Game!

To be continued tomorrow... 

In the meantime, sign up for Chef Tanya's cooking demos here: Cooking Demos at Native Foods. And drop by the Native Foods blog for amazing vegan recipes.  :)


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