inspiration2022/10/06

The Future Of Plant-Based Food With Flave

by Wolf & Badger

Founded by husband and wife duo, Stuart & Samantha Cook, Flave is a Sydney-based restaurant on a mission to revolutionise the way we think about plant-based food. With Sir Paul McCartney’s ex-private chef, Scott Findlay, behind the sumptuous menu, you can count on Flave to deliver something for everyone, vegan or not. We caught up with the team to hear more…

What initially inspired you to open Flave? Can you tell us about your mission to ‘Flave’ the world?

The concept of Flave was born out of the need to, ultimately, feel better and do better. Feel better within our own bodies and do better for the planet. 

In 2016 while myself and Stu were honeymooning in Costa Rica, an innocent-looking coconut gave way to a serious bacterial infection, resulting in me being air-lifted to hospital and remaining in emergency with secondary heart complications. A very scary time indeed. Through rounds of antibiotics to improve my bad gut bacteria, my good gut bacteria was left seriously compromised, and in order to strengthen it again, my doctor suggested I consume a predominantly plant-based diet.  

Being the supportive hubby that he is, Stuart joined me on this journey and through trial, error and persistence, we continued assisting my recovery by consuming more plants.

What we soon realised though was how terrible the plant-based foods on offer actually were!  But we persisted for the sake of my health and found that, after a little while, I was feeling drastically better. I was recovering well from my bacterial infection and we were both experiencing clearer skin, higher energy levels and healthy weight loss.  

As naturally inquisitive people, this lifestyle change led us down an educational rabbit hole to see the ways that a plant-based diet can be superior to the Western diet we had been consuming all our lives. Not only did we learn that the food market was seriously missing healthful, flavour-first plant-based options, but we also saw the strain that consuming meats actually puts on a person’s digestive system and the global impact animal products can have on our climate. 

Once you learn something so impactful such as how much better plant-based foods can be for us, you can no longer turn a blind eye, and that’s exactly how Stu and I felt with this newfound knowledge.

Where does the name Flave come from?

Flave of course stands for flavour! And it really is all in the name for us. If you name a business with something bold, you really need to live up to it and we absolutely believe that Flave does! We want people to munch, crunch and sip Flave’s burgers, bowls and shakes and have the flavour profile top of mind instead of the fact it’s plant-based.

Scotty, can you tell us about your journey as a chef that led you to Flave?

My first taste of plant-based cooking as a chef happened in 2004 when I landed a job working as part of Paul McCartney’s team. After working and training under Gordon Ramsay, I knew what tough environments felt like but catering for a fully vegan musician was something else!

Paul liked the flavours and taste of meat but chose not to consume them for environmental and ethical reasons, so my mission was to recreate the flavours and textures of meat using a mixture of wholefood plant-based options as well as alternative protein options. 

After Paul, I travelled and worked with musicians like Beyonce, Rhianna, Madonna - each keen on consuming minimal or no animal products so I was able to hone in on perfecting this style of cooking. I started using vegetables like mushrooms, legumes, root vegetables, tomatoes as well as nuts and seeds in unique ways to replicate the taste and texture of meat and it’s really just grown from there. 

As for how I ended up working with Sam and Stu in the build of Flave, it all happened after an unplanned meeting with Stu while he was looking for a meat-eating chef who cooked plant-based dishes! They were essentially looking for someone who knew what meat tasted like and the flavours that worked so the same satisfaction could be replicated in non-animal products. I fit the bill and the rest is history!

What item on the menu has become a sensation at Flave, and why do you think that is?

All of the insanely delicious meals on our menu come down to our chef, Scotty. His knowledge of flavour profiles and playing with foods to make them ‘meaty’ or umami is second to none and has ensured our fully plant-based menu doesn’t forgo flavour and uses only the freshest, cleanest Australian produce.

But when it comes to our best-selling items, it would have to be our Classic Flave and Bae-BQ burgers. People are creatures of habit, especially with their eating. Burgers are always a favorite order because people know what to expect and when they visit or order from Flave for the first time, they’re less likely to try something new if they know it’s plant based and are, perhaps, a little sceptical. 

How has living in Australia influenced your innovative plant-based recipes?

We are so lucky to be exposed to so many cuisines in Australia. We really are spoiled for choice with delicious flavours which is why it’s so perfect to have someone in the Flave team who has travelled the world as a chef and had the opportunity to taste and learn to make authentic dishes. Scotty uses herbs, spices and other ingredients to pack a punch and with Australians’ appetite for global cuisine, the menu has an offering for everyone’s taste buds.  

How do you come up with new menu ideas? Are you inspired by what is going on in Bondi? 

It’s so easy to be inspired when you both live and work in such an open, outdoorsy, active and health-focused part of Australia. Bondi inspires me every day. From what I read to where I visit, train and explore. 

The fun thing about creating new plant-based dishes is the challenge I set myself when wanting to recreate a traditionally meat-heavy classic. It’s exciting and fulfilling knowing we’re bringing an old favorite to life with an innovative and healthy twist. 

What’s next for Flave?

We are nothing if not ambitious! Our vision at Flave is to open more than 1,000 restaurants within the next 10 years. Bold? Yes. But we absolutely back ourselves and our mission to Flave the World. 

But first thing’s first. We have big dreams for this brand but we want to nail our offering in our backyard first. We will soon be expanding our Sydney offering with a second location in Darlinghurst’s Stanley Street in October. We will also be popping up at the Bondi Farmers Markets on the regular, and appearing at the upcoming Love Food Fair in Martin Place - a celebration of plant-based food and fare.

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