Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Williamsburg Faux Chicken Sandwich Named One Of Top 10 in Country

For many, the word “vegan” does not invoke mouth-watering temptation. Jeff Blanchard (above), one of the owners of vegan fast food restaurant Foodswings, often sees passers-by look at his menu and grimace when they read the word.
But this Grand Street eatery has perfected a faux chicken sandwich that tastes just like the real thing. In fact, its “Chick’n Caesar Club” was chosen by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) as one of the top 10 meat-free chicken sandwiches in the country.
The sandwich is made of grilled mock chicken with romaine lettuce, tomato and black olives with Caesar dressing on Italian bread and is the brainchild of Foodswings’ original owner. Blanchard bought the place nine months ago with Melody Henry and Eric Gershick, and they decided to keep the sandwich when they reinvigorated the menu.
Blanchard explained that the “chicken” patties are made from soy protein, wheat gluten and vegetarian spices. But what really sets the sandwich apart is the dressing. “The Caesar dressing gives it the great flavor,” he said, noting that all the dressings are made from scratch at Foodswings using vegan ingredients.
“[The sandwich] is fantastic,” said PETA spokesperson Ashley Byrne. “It tastes and looks like a chicken patty ... I really do think that most people couldn’t taste the difference.”
Many people who are meat eaters try the dishes at Foodswings and keep coming back. “I encourage everybody to try it once even if you’re not vegan,” Blanchard said. “We’re constantly coming up with new recipes. We love food and want to be satisfied by it. We want everybody to enjoy it.”
Customers at Foodswings can choose from a wide variety of options on the menu. There are mock chicken nuggets, mock fish sticks, mock steak, soy salami, soy cheese and soy milk shakes. The “No Turkey Club Hero,” for example, is made of peppered soy turkey slices, crispy soy bacon, romaine lettuce and tomato with soy mayo or mustard on Italian bread.
Blanchard, a vegan himself, used to frequent Foodswings as a customer. A resident of Bay Ridge who is part-owner of the bar Lucky 13 in Park Slope, he had always wanted to open a vegan restaurant, and jumped at the chance when Foodswings was up for sale.
While he has been a vegetarian for 10 years, Blanchard has only been vegan for less than two (he had a difficult time giving up pizza). For him, it’s an ethical issue, and while he doesn’t judge people who choose to eat meat, he says, “it really disgusts me what we do to this planet and how we treat other beings on this planet.”
“The meat industry is taking a devastating toll on the environment,” said Byrne. “Choosing a vegetarian option for one meal will make a tremendous impact on the environment.
“It’s great that places like Foodswings are catering to all the people who are turning away from meat products,” she continued. “It’s a perfect place for people who want the taste and texture of chicken while avoiding the cruelty.”
Visit for the menu and hours.

All photos by Mike Plotz

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