Chef Scott Schroeder, of American Sardine Bar and the South Philadelphia Taproom, is the most outspoken cook in all of Philadelphia. His Twitter account is good for laughs, shock value, and food porn. Schroeder is one of the most over-the-top meat fiends in the city. He has a deft hand and creative mind in the kitchen, and keeps the food snobs and lowly drunks well-fed. The same man who makes his masturbation and weed-smoking schedule public knowledge found a way to surprise people even more: he went vegan.
Are you really vegan? Well, I am trying to be. I have to put a finger in dishes I'm making to make sure they taste right, and there's been some cheese here and there. But, I'm working on it.
Andy Kauffman was famous for his performance art and pulling one over on the general populace. Is that what's going on here? No, this is real. Sadly, I'm not making this up, and it's going to stick.
Why did you decide to go vegan? I went to the doctor recently because I was having some health issues and a lot of headaches. I'm sure they're not related, but I noticed that overall, I wasn't healthy. I'm 37, and have a son that relies on me. I need to stay around for awhile. Watching what I eat, and making lifestyle choices like this will help with that.
So, it's not for social reasons? No, I've eaten responsibly and ethically for a very long time. But, I've never watched what I ate. I've eaten unhealthily for, oh, 37 years. I've felt so much better since I made this decision. I didn't believe in the whole "meat makes you sluggish" argument before I went vegan, but it's true. The preachiness of most of the veggie and vegan people is the real problem that lifestyle choice, not the food.
So no more meat at all? No, I can't say that. I'm sure I will "screw up" along the way, but I think as long as I am trying, that's a good thing. I love meat. It's funny, though, during the last month as I've been vegan, I find that the few times I've had to taste meats, they've been even more delicious and rewarding because I'm not eating them all the time. Especially since my life is surrounded by pork fat.
Will there be more vegan food on your menus now? There will be better vegan food, but not more of it. Believe it or not, vegan food doesn't sell. Not in my restaurants. You need to have it there, but we don't move a lot of it. It's not like Rich (Landau) at Vedge. His whole menu is so labor intensive, and it's amazing. I can't believe the stuff he's coming up with. But, that's his focus, and it isn't mine.
Have you seen other benefits besides increased energy? I'm a veggie fan, I always have been, but recently I was on a trip with a bunch of other meat eaters, and they laughed when the kitchen prepared me the vegan meal. But, I ended up with this beautiful portobello mushroom dish, and they ended up with way overdone steaks and frozen scallops that were cooked within an inch of their lives. Enjoy, fellas.
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