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Vegan Chef Wheeler Del Torro is hosting his African-Cuban street food Barrio pop-up this Saturday, March 31st at 7 PM (location: Philly, to be revealed). While many are apprehensive about his request-an-invite-only system, don’t count out the event yet. We talked with Wheeler about his crappy writing skills & veganism and can’t deny his infectious passion for his cooking and his pop-ups.
After high school, Wheeler lived in Paris to fulfill his dreams of becoming a writer… Luckily for food fans, he realized he had “no talent to write” (his words, not ours) and packed up his bags to get back to real world. He next destination? Philly for his college years.
How did he go from our city of brotherly love to vegan chef? After trouble finding a paycheck & getting rejected from working at restaurants, he landed a gig as a personal chef for a wealthy banker. After indulging in Del Torro’s cooking for a few months, the banker’s doc warned him about high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes… putting the halt on his American meaty diet. Fear not friends… Del Torro changed the banker’s (and his own) diet to a Vegan lifestyle.
Just like us, Del Torro had trouble giving up the meat and cheated for a 6 month period. (His fav cheat food? White Castle.) Now, he’s got 12 years of Veganism under his belt and refuses to go back to an animal-lifestyle. He encourages local food (just like us!) and is shocked that people still believe that vegan food ‘tastes’ differently (just like us!). He encourages Philly residents to venture to Reading Terminal Market to find local, organic produce from farms over chain stores that “sell” the local image.
The pop-up idea rooted from his European dinner party days. Del Torro noticed people forgot to communicate as they Facebooked more, and he wants to get people offline and start dialogue. ”I want to get people talking about what’s going on in the community and how to help,” he explained. Saturday’s menu should be enticing and creative to go along with the convo – one of his latest creations for his ice-creamery was a vegan Twinkie flavor. (His book the Vegan Scoop gives recipes for lots of faux ice cream delights.)
Saturday’s pop up will surely be an experience. Want to join in on this veggie-chef’s Cuban deliciousness? We’re giving away a pair of tickets! (Tickets are going for $150 per person or a $100 charity donation.) Simply like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Then simply say either “FBer” or “Twitterer” (or “already a fan”) and comment in the space below about your fav vegan/vegetarian food. You’re entered! Contest will end Thursday, March 29th at 11:59 PM ET.
If you don’t win our giveaway, you can still try to go to the pop-up. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an invite. (Warning: guests may have to fill an application – they want to ensure a range of personalities to get the convo going for this event.) The location will be revealed to guests on the eve of the event. Although Del Torro wouldn’t reveal the locale to us yet, he did hint that we won’t be disappointed. And we think he may be right.
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