For the socially conscious and cruelty-free foodies who've been missing vegan eats from the recently shuttered Mac'N food truck - there's good news for your grumbling stomach. Francesca Lacuesta, the woman behind the truck's original recipes, has launched her own catering company, Panpespa. The new concept is an all-natural vegan kitchen with a rustic, gourmet flair.
"The concept actually had been brewing for quite some time, before Mac'N. I've always baked. That's what I did with my grandmother - we just constantly baked. And catering was something I had done with Mac'N, so now that's kind of my thing," Lacuesta says.
The venture's menu includes Mac'N favorites and unique baked goods like saffron pistachio cookies, nutella stuffed cinnamon sugar muffins and salted caramel kahlua brownies. There's also a huge variety of sandwiches, salads, sides and desserts including a sandwich with seitan, bourbon peaches, caramelized vidalia onions, no-bee honey mustard & arugula on Texas toast; a BBQ chik'n salad with organic spinach, tomato, tempeh bacon, tofu, fried shallots, grilled chik'n breast and ranch dressing; and enchiladas con mole with salsa verde, topped with mushrooms and "cheese."
In addition to catering events of all shapes and sizes, Panpespa has been making appearances at local events, including a monthly vegan brunch at Sweat Records. This Sunday will mark their second. The first was a sell-out with 80 people lining up to get at the grub.
This week is a "Benedict Brunch," meaning they'll be serving English Muffins with topping options like a tofu scramble, tempeh sausage, "crab fakes", tomatoes with smoked sea salt and sautéed spinach with creamy Hollandaise sauce. They'll also offer rosemary roasted potatoes, pumpkin muffins with apple butter, blackberry sage muffins, kale salad with cranberry poppy seed dressing and fresh fruit & herb salad. Attendees can dig into all they can eat for $15, and those who bring along a mug or thermos will get free drip coffee or tea.
When asked why they decided to shut down Mac'N, Lacuesta cites a difference in opinion among management. Either way, Lacuesta, a student and self-taught chef, is moving full-steam ahead with her new venture.
"I'm self-taught. I grew up cooking in my grandmother's kitchen, she prepared every single meal from scratch. And also becoming a vegetarian and vegan, unless you eat out all the time, you really have to learn how to prepare stuff. It involves lots of trial and error," she adds.
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"My muffins, for example, have taken several attempts before perfecting them. The black bean burger I had at Mac'N literally took like four months to perfect, and I would serve it to customers to get feedback. I want genuine critique from customers and clients and I'm so welcome to that. I'm serving them and I want to make sure that it's absolutely phenomenal."
The hungry brunch hoards can RSVP via Facebook, or just show up ready to nosh. The meal runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sweat Records. In addition, Panpespa will be giving away two trays of Garden Mac'n Cheese during. All paying customers will be automatically entered to win.