Knowledge Base > Dan Marek - Ask Me Anything (Office Hours)

Ask Me Anything (Office Hours)

Dan Marek - Ask Me Anything (Office Hours)

This event was on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 11:00 am Pacific, 2:00 pm Eastern

Join Chef Dan Marek in his virtual office as he welcomes all of your questions. This event was created for you and we encourage you to Ask Anything – from cooking techniques to cours… Read More.



Do you have any WFPB recipe recommendations for beginner home-cooks to implement/practice that will be a challenge but also help expand knowledge and skills efficiently?

— James Rask


So I think that probably to, you know, you wanna start with some foundational skill building, it sounds like. So like, I would definitely, um, do a soup from scratch. And when I mean from scratch, I mean, start with the stock and build that, uh, stock up to a couple different versions of different soups, right? So like, just today for lunch is an example. I took a vegetable stock that I had made, um, over the weekend, and I do this almost every week where I take all the scraps of vegetables and I put 'em into a bag in the freezer, and then when that bag fills up, I put it on a stock pot and fill water and make a stock out of it, drain it all off. But today I took that same stock and I put in some, um, dried shiitake mushrooms, um, and a little bit of miso, uh, just a little bit of dark, uh, dark soy sauce and some green onions and some tofu, and made that into just a nice little lunch, you know, for that. And that's just a very simple build right from your stock, right? Nothing else into that. But I also used that same stock a couple days ago and had my kids help me with the chilies. So we chopped up all the ingredients and put it in the pot, use the stock for that as well too. So you'll see going from one to that next step, there's different, different things you'll do in those recipes as far as your knife skills go. And as far as your techniques go, so like in the chili, I would cook off the onions first and put in the garlic and kind of build that flavor base up, and I wouldn't add my stock in kind of towards the end. So great way to kind of start building those flavor profiles. Now, other recipes, you know, um, to be able to kind of build those foundational principles. Um, think of things that you can build sauces out of as well. So going into sauces and think about different ways to do whole food plant-based sauces, it's a compliment thing. So, you know, rice and pasta is two really easy things to be able to build pastas upon, right? So being able to do a really good red sauce, um, you know, doing a, a pesto, and I mean, not just like a, a basil pesto, try like a kale pesto. Try a couple different versions of pesto to be able to see what you like, what you don't like, what you're building upon, and see what's actually happening in some of those recipes. As as well. If you're doing pasta, try the pasta from scratch, try to actually make a pasta from scratch, from, you know, either an Italian style or an udan. You know, uh, great ways to be able to make, um, you know, pasta, uh, that you can still do as a whole food plant-based, um, you know, style of those. But I think that those are a couple ways to be able to start off with just getting some learning in underneath you and really implement and practice on a weekly basis so you'll get better and better. Pasta building is one of those wonderful things that the first time it's gonna be a mess when you do it, but after, you know, months and months of doing it, it gets much easier. It's the same thing with breads. If you wanna actually do like a whole grain of bread at home, a lot of times the first time comes out a little rough. It's kinda like making pancakes, right? The first pancake usually goes to the dog, is the thing, right? So, um, it's very kind of similar in that same way. So, uh, you know, when you're doing breads, the first one might be a little rough, but the years and years of doing that, you're going to really perfect it and come out with wonderful loaves on those. So think about those in ways. So, you know, doing different soups, doing different, um, sauces, breads and pastas. Wonderful ways to be able to, you know, use grains in those ways too. So try those, um, you know, and just keep practicing. The more you cook every single meal, the better you're going to improve upon those skills and start adding different recipes in each week. Now, you know, it's okay to be able to stick with what you know, but add different things in there. When you go to a grocery store and you see a vegetable that you've never heard of before, Google it. See what you can make out of it. Um, just to, you know, expand your knowledge a little bit in the kitchen.
Dan Marek

Dan Marek

Director of Plant-Based Culinary & Dev