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Meet Vegan Food Truck Legend & Chef, Adam Sobel (from Vegan Mashup, Season 2)

Adam Sobel

Adam Sobel is the chef and owner of The Cinnamon Snail, a celebrated, award winning all-vegan food truck which serves New York City and New Jersey. He has an adorable vegan family. Adam and his wife Joey work together on recipe testing and creating fancy vegan wedding cakes, while dreaming of ways to make the world yummier and free of cruelty. Adam’s favorite color is yellow, and he survives mostly on yerba mate and loud, bass-heavy, good music.

Who was the last person to cook for you?
My daughter made gluten-free raspberry pancakes yesterday for brunch. She’s 12 and vegan, and knows how to cook yummy food.

What cookbook are you most looking forward to coming out soon, excluding your own?
I’m pretty psyched on Michelle Scicolone’s The Italian Vegetable Cookbook. Unfortunately not all vegan, which I really don’t get, but she is a fantastic cook with great ideas, and makes gorgeous, fun cookbooks.

What do you want people to get from your new cookbook?
The book I’m currently finishing is filled with stories of our trials and tribulations running a food truck. It’s also got really cool recipes of things we can’t make on the truck because of equipment, like vegan Chinese steamed bao buns and more fun raw recipes. Of course there is also a full donut section, and I think that will be a really useful resource for a lot of people who want to learn vegan donut making. There really isn’t much out there on that subject that is reliable and works well.

Are you already working on your next cookbook? Can you tell us anything about it?
The recipes are all done and tested, and reports have come back that the cashew oat waffles are coming out just like they do on the truck in people’s home kitchens, which is great news. Starting on photography next week with superstar ‘veggie-tographer’ Kate Lewis. The book is going to have tons of mouth watering food porn.

What 2014 VegFests or events can people come say Hi to you at?
Definitely hitting the Bethlehem, PA one with our truck this year.

Here’s a little story about the one we were at in 2012:

This is what I want people to understand about my world: IT’S COMPLETELY CRAZY, AND I LOVE IT.

The Bethlehem VegFest took place in Pennsylvania a week before the 2012 Vendy Awards in mid-September. September is “World Hunger Month,” and to honor that, I was fasting for the entire month, along with Sean and some of the Snail staff, and donating money for every day of our fast to a charity in northern India that feeds and educates homeless orphans.

A few days before the VegFest, the truck’s generator died and was irreparable. We threw in a crappy back-up generator to power our refrigeration while we waited for and installed our nice new commercial generator. Well, that didn’t go so smoothly. The back-up generator SUCKED, and shut off regularly. It was summer, and without power, we had to keep everything in coolers on ice, and in the absurdly hot truck, the fans and exhaust system weren’t working. Cooking became more like being baked alive in the truck. It was absolutely urgent to install the new commercial generator.

I would get back from being on the truck all day, and spend the whole night with our mechanic under the truck, running wires and fuel lines. There were lots of complications, which I’m not going to bore you with here, but suffice it to say, it took MANY nights to take out the broken generator and have the new one installed.

The night before the VegFest, we were sure we were in the final stages of installing the generator, and would have reliable power for what we expected would be a really busy day for us in Bethlehem. To get to Bethlehem on time, we figured we would need to leave the kitchen at 9 am. Around 7:30 am, everything was finally connected and ready to be tested. Not so lucky. It turned out we were told by sales people of the company who made our new generator that we would not need an important external fuel pump to run the thing. They were wrong about that.

Auto parts stores opened at 8:00 am and we had just enough time to obtain a fuel pump and install it. With minutes to spare, we fired up the generator… and still nothing. We’d found no indication of the exact specifications of the fuel pump we would need, and we had made a bad guess.

There was no time left to play with, so we grabbed an extension cord, and drove off to PA hoping and praying there would be an outlet or generator that could power us.

It was a gorgeous day, and there was a huge turnout for the Bethlehem Vegfest. The organizers had an electrical panel we could plug into, and by the time we opened our service window, there were about 80 people in line! For hours we kicked ass, serving amazing food to a huge, never ending line of folks, many of whom had heard of us and had been waiting years to try our food.

After a few hours, the sky started to grey, and then we lost power. I jumped out of the back of the truck to see if we had been accidentally unplugged. I traced our extension cord back to the panel, where one of the event personnel was shutting everything off. I was told that there was a rain storm coming in, and they were shutting down the event.

I raced back to the truck, and made the announcement that the event was being shut down, but we wanted to serve everyone waiting in our line (still about 70–80 people deep). We took everyone’s orders and started cooking like crazy. The rain started coming down really heavy. The entire festival had left, except for our truck and a huge line of people standing in a rainstorm in an empty parking lot. We had to close the back windows of our truck, and with a darkened sky and no electric lights, we continued cooking as fast as we could. The rain and wind picked up worse, sending across the parking lot. We could hear people in line for our food screaming and getting soaked. I announced that we were giving free boxes of food to everyone waiting in line. People went crazy. It was so much fun.

What’s REALLY exciting you in vegandom right NOW?
It’s not new to me at least, but DR. COW. Dr. Cow is nut-based cultured vegan cheese that rocks my world. Always exciting. Also excited to be launching a 2nd vegan food truck this summer!

What Spring garden goodie are you anticipating most?
Literally an hour before I sat down to do this interview, I was starting seeds in my garden. Really stoked on mizuna, mustard greens, and nappa cabbage. Love doing kimchi with those things. The bite from the mustard is so damn good in kimchi, or pickled.

What food/ie trend has captured your attention?
People are doing really fascinating things with traditional indigenous foods. Wild harvested, foraged stuff. Using old school, primitive cooking methods. On some level, I think this is the next frontier in ethical eating. Moving away from giant industrialized agriculture practices, and finding ways to sustain ourselves, without destroying habitats.

Where is your favorite vegan appetizer/starter from?
Gigantes Skordalia from Periyali. Mad good. It’s a not fully veg rustic greek restaurant with fantastic vegan options. Their charcoal grilled oyster mushrooms are absurdly good. The Gigantes are giant white beans with olive oil lemon juice and oregano, served with a yummy poato based garlicky dip.

Would you rather be taken to vegan lunch at a taco OR noodle bar?
Tacos. Don’t even try to tell me NOT tacos. But noodles are nice and fun. They aren’t tacos, though. Let’s get that straight.

What one question did you want us to ask that we didn’t?
Here, now for your listening pleasure are my favorites to listen to while cooking:

Gayatri Mantra by Anuradha Paudwal
Bake a Cake by Lil Debbie
Remember Shakti
Animals As Leaders
Dieselboy Live Sets


See more of Adam on Vegan Mashup‘s second season.