Louisville Magazine

DEC 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 12.18 65 mean you're just eating quinoa and kale salad all the time," she says. "You can still get really avorful, hearty meals without using animal products." She spent a lot of time cooking at home, in part because there were few restaurant options for vegans in Louisville a decade ago. Ramsi's Cafe and the now-shuttered Zen Garden were two exceptions. "At other places, you were basically building something for yourself based on rice," she says. In her own kitchen, there was a steep learning curve — and her older brother still jokes about the …rst few meals he tasted, which Addington admits "were just terrible." But she remained committed to achieving the same avors found in family recipes — and to proving that "there's more to vegan than tofu." As she worked toward this goal, her career path took a di‡erent direction, albeit one equally inspired by animal wel- fare. She became a campaign coordinator with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), eventually working her way up to the role of corporate liaison. She spent about two weeks per month travel- ing across the country, meeting with exec- utives at companies like JCPenney, Puma and Gap in an e‡ort to convince them to enhance their animal-welfare policies. When she wasn't on the road, Addington was busy building a side business as a private chef and vegan cooking instructor known as the Vegan Temptress. On a whim, she applied to appear on the Food Network show Cutthroat Kitchen. In the online questionnaire, she stated her goal was to prove that vegan food can be even better than food made with animal products. A network sta‡er called the next day, and after a series of Skype interviews, she made the cut. "–ey ew me out to Burbank (California) within a couple weeks. I got picked up at the airport with my name on a sign and a fancy black car — the whole deal," says Addington, who describes the show as cooking compe- tition meets American Gladiators. Over the course of two days of …lming, she defeated three competitors and took home the grand prize: $18,500. She used the winnings, along with $13,000 raised via Kickstarter, to purchase a bright-orange food truck. V-Grits was born. After a few successful years on the local food-truck scene, Addington and her hus- band Je‡ Hennis, co-founder of V-Grits, began searching for a restaurant space. –e timing was serendipitous, as Steele was looking for a food partner in his False Idol venture. It was a good …t: –e 32-year-old brewer is vegan and from a small Ken- tucky town where he too was raised on home-cooking. Now that they're open, Addington estimates that 50 percent of their customer base has been non-vegan. So far, the most popular menu item is the Betty, which pleases Addington: She named it in honor of her mom, who died this past summer. –e country-dinner-style platter is a take on fried chicken, just like Mom used to make — except it's made with an oyster mush- room marinated in vegan buttermilk, then battered and fried. "–e texture of it is so chicken-y, it's almost strange to eat," Add- ington says. "You feel like you're eating fried chicken." –e meal is served with mashed potatoes and gravy, stir-fried veggies and a scratch-made biscuit with sweet butter (made by whipping a store-bought vegan spread with agave and cinnamon). Another menu staple is a vegan Hot Brown, inspired by the meaty version Addington's mom cooked almost weekly when she was a kid. As an omnivore who recently visited V-Grits accompanied by a devout carni- vore and two adventuresome kids, I can attest that this spot isn't just for vegans. We devoured both the Hot Brown and the Betty, along with the Cuban sandwich, made with seitan-based "ham" and "turkey" and topped with mustard, pickles and smoked gouda made from coconut milk. –e imitation-meat textures and tastes were noticeably di‡erent than the ingredients they were emulating, but the dishes in their entirety evoked the avors of the real thing. –e pimento cheese grits were perfectly spicy for three out of four people at our table (the …ve-year-old dramatically gulped water after tasting), and we all concurred that the fried mac and cheese balls were deliciously creamy on the inside with a crunchy coating. –e kids fought over the last half of a biscuit, abandoning all manners to scoop the …nal schmear of sweet butter out of the ramekin. –e adults paid them little mind, enjoying two crisp Kellerbiers, a German pilsner that was one of three False Idol brews on tap. My family shared an abundance of food, eating every morsel, and left with uncomfortably full bellies. Just as one would expect at the end of an authentic Southern meal.

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