Smith & Daughters Head Chef Brings Vegan Feast to Month-Long Italian Festival in Sydney

A night of vegan Italian food is coming to Sydney. Called “Vegan Italiano,” the one-night-only event invites guests to partake in a night of plant-based Italian classics.

“Whether it was your family, or your friend’s family growing up, we all have those food moments imprinted in our DNA of the first time we tried something wonderful,” reads the event page.“Maybe it was Tiramisu, or great olive oil, white anchovies whose acidity teased our mouths, or fresh figs so juicy they exploded in your mouth.”

Shannon Martinez, head chef of the Melbourne-based vegan restaurant Smith & Daughters and its offshoot, the Fitzroy-based Smith & Deli, has developed a menu worthy of an unforgettable Italian feast. The night is part of Sydney Good Food Month, an annual event that celebrates the local food culture as well as the influential chefs and restaurants that helped build it.

While an official menu has yet to be released, vegan Italian food is a specialty of Martinez’s. Her recipes were recently featured in the Italian issue of food magazine Gourmet Traveller. Martinez’s passion for Italian food is also reflected in the recent update to Smith & Daughter’s menu.

On a regular basis, customers can now choose from dishes such as housemade gnocchi tossed in a creamy broccoli rabe pesto, eggplant involtini filled with cashew ricotta and topped with vegan buffalo mozzarella, slow-braised “beef” ragu with polenta, and mushroom marsala. The dessert menu also features classic Italian dishes, such as tiramisu and limoncello rice pudding.

Martinez changed the menu in order to offer locals something new, she told Australian food magazine Good Food.

She estimates that at least 75 percent of her customers are meat-eaters looking to reduce their meat consumption, but aren’t quite ready “to go the whole cauliflower.” The popularity of Smith & Daughters has led to the publication of two vegan cookbooks, “Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens to Be Vegan)” and “Smith and Deli-icious: Food From Our Deli (That Happens to Be Vegan).”

The Sydney Good Food Month Vegan Italiano night is set to take place on October 20. Those interested in attending can purchase tickets from the event page.

Image Credit: Smith & Daughters