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Kris Wessel on Oolite's Vegan Dinner: Omnivores "Will Not Believe That Food Can Have So Much Flavor"

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Kris Wessel is famous for his unique, indigenously-inspired Floridian fare. Menu items like barbecue shrimp, coconut-conch chowder, and "Hialeah-style" palomilla steak mark Oolite's lineup.

But Wessel is the master of more than just animal protein. His Miami Beach eatery offers a wide array of meatless dishes, and this Thursday, they're going fully plant-based for the vegan dinner series Conscious Bite Out.

See also: Chef Paco of Jugofresh Cooks Up Creative Vegan Eats for Conscious Bite Out Dinner

Wessel has known Marcela Andron and Veronica Menin, founders of Conscious Bite Out, since he was building Red Light Little River, his previous restaurant in the Upper Eastside.

"I really loved the idea of Conscious Bite Out and what it represents in and to the food community," Wessel says. It's completely in line with the concept behind Oolite, he adds, describing his restaurant as "a healthy, regional eatery with specific attention to the flavors of the region and healthy technique towards cooking along with the wellness factor involved in this approach to food."

Oolite is gluten-free. They also offer a whole host of vegetable-based options, which Wessel says are "extremely popular." The most popular? Their G.O.D. (green of the day) plate where they steam, roast, and saute seven types of vegetables.

"Our three-grain salad plate also features plant-based, healthy grains of various variety and flavor. I would not have launched Oolite in any other place but Miami Beach for its bright, progressive and supportive clientele who already have an attention in their diet to plant-based foods," he adds.

For omnivores who might be thinking about attending the dinner, Wessel adds: "They will not believe that food can have so much flavor without the added animal, sea or dairy proteins in the mix. They will understand the real flavor of a particular fruit or vegetable and most certainly the region.

The menu for the Conscious Bite Out dinner is as follows:

Amuse Bouches

Spicy, grilled, Florida-grown, skinny purple eggplant and sesame-wrapped malbar spinach and pan-crisp green tomato, salty tostone salsa and lemon emulsion

Appetizer

Gold tomato and calaloo arepa with poached leek crema salad including chanterelle forest mushrooms, toasted almonds, re-hydrated cranberries, and boniato cubes with Spanish sherry-thyme vinaigrette

Main Course

Red rice-stuffed and baked cho cho blanco with black bean guajillo sauce

or

Vegetable lasagnetta: calabaza squash, red kaniwa, spinach, malanga with spicy tomato broth, asparagus, and Trinidad curry roti

Dessert

Persimmon flan and crispy caramel tuile and gluten-free chocolate and spice cookies

The meal will also be served with artisanal biodynamic wines and spirits and a selection of gluten-free breads, biscuits, buns, and flatbreads.

The dinner runs $125 per person and includes spirits, wines, tax and gratuity. You must pre-purchase your tickets in order to attend at consciousbiteout.com.

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