During this past weekend’s Second Saturday Gallery Night, chef Genise Castaneda offered what she hoped is the first taste of the Vegan fast food revolution in Highland Park.
Curious Angeleno gourmands lined up in front of 4933 York Boulevard as soon as Plant Food for People began dishing out “Carnitas” Jack Fruit tacos at around 6 p.m., for what was a sort of sneak peek of an eatery Castaneda hopes becomes a neighborhood staple.
The plan is to set up shop on York within 6 months and establish the city’s first drive-thru Vegan restaurant, Castaneda said.
“It really needs to be a drive-thru,” Castaneda said. “It’s a convenience thing. Everybody eats fast food and they associate that with the drive-thru. “
A lifelong resident of Highland Park who currently resides near the corner of York and Ave. 50, Castaneda said she chose to set up shop on York in part because she believed there was a market in place given the growing number artists living and working in the area.
“You can definitely feel the creativity; it’s in the air,” she said. “I’m really plugged into the community, there’s a lot of things going on and it’s all positive.”
Locals may have already tasted Castaneda's vegan fare at , wher she has provided catering, prior to Saturday's soft launch.
However, Castaneda said the mission of Plant food For People goes beyond serving out trendy tacos to local artists and college students. She’s a fast food revolutionary.
Castaneda said that with Plant Food for People, she hopes to reach out to those who may have never considered the benefits of a Vegan diet, or those who simply want a healthier option during the lunch-time rush.
“I want people to see that all kinds of food can be healthy, even fast food,” she said.
Castaneda, 30, said she began her own nutritional revolution about 5 years ago, when she was diagnosed with gallstones.
“It shocked me and it kind of opened my eyes,” she said. “So I researched for a long time and determined that veganism was right for me.”
She said she honed her cooking chops through necessity after converting to a meat and animal product free diet.
“Little by little you start with tofu because that’s what everybody knows, but you get a little bored and that compels you to broaden your research,” she said. “Now that I’m a vegan, I feel like my food options are much broader than they were before.”
Castaneda said she'll be running a few more tasting events like last weekends in the lead up to Plant Food for People's launch.