“Both my brother and I came from two different culinary backgrounds and joined forces about 15 years ago.”
Derek Sarno is the co-founder of the UK’s extraordinarily loved Wicked Kitchen, and is currently developing plant-based seafood brand Good Catch. Prior to co-founding Wicked Healthy and partnering with Tesco, Derek served as the Senior Global Executive Chef for Whole Foods Market.
Ahead of his talk on building a brand at the Plant Based Business Bootcamp next Saturday, we caught up with Derek and asked him a few questions!
How did Wicked Healthy all begin? What was your inspiration? And what led you up to that point?
We’re deeply passionate about alleviating the suffering of animals, people and the planet. Our mission is to help people eat more plants for any and every reason you can think of! Both my brother and I came from two different culinary backgrounds and joined forces about 15 years ago before jointly leading Whole Foods Market’s healthy eating initiative. We learned the ins and outs of the benefits of a whole foods plant based diet by some of the world’s top doctors in plant-based nutrition. Our job was to roll out and train team members and customers on these benefits and bring it mainstream and this was a decade ago. We developed our common sense approach of cooking and following an 80% Healthy + 20% Wicked = 100% Awesome, lifestyle! Now we spend our time putting that passion into products and high impact projects.
What is your favourite Wicked Kitchen product?
I go through waves of eating all the Wicked Kitchen products and right now I’m all about the new Wicked Caesar wrap for lunch, the upgrades on some of the new dinners are phenomenal and the new desserts coming out soon!
What is something that has surprised you during your time being involved in the vegan food business?
I’m most surprised by all of the shit talk vegans do towards others trying to help progress the movement. Every step forward towards getting people to rethink their choices in a positive sense towards consuming more plant-based foods in any capacity is a good one. The reality of the situation is we need things to happen faster than yesterday and it requires support not negative obstacles. Celebrate wins when they happen and keep progressing for more.
“There are still gaps in the market place for new concepts to arise especially in an all-natural unprocessed sense.”
Could you give us some quick tips on how to use mushrooms as a meat replacement?
When it comes to natural textures mimicking meat Mushrooms have the most natural tendency. Shredding, pressing, pulling and proper roasting are a few ways to prepare. We share loads of techniques in the Cookbook, on our website and in the new Wicked Kitchen YouTube series on Wicked Healthy Youtube.
What are your predictions for vegan food trends in the near future?
Meat replacements are only going to get better! Now that plant based is taking center stage big money is being put into the space and real innovation to bring the best quality and most affordable products will result. There are still gaps in the market place for new concepts to arise especially in an all-natural unprocessed sense. And plant based seafood is up next and we’re coming to the U.K. market with that shortly.
“Love that Vevolution does this [business bootcamp]! It’s such a great opportunity to support individuals and the community.”
We are super excited about your sustainable seafood venture, Good Catch. How difficult was it to get the product right? (And can we look forward to it coming to the UK soon?!)
Developing the texture with a clean ingredient deck was priority and that took a couple years of back and forth, trial and error. Brother Chad leads the culinary aspect of the Good Catch team so I could come to the U.K. and work with Tesco. It’s on high agenda to bring to the U.K. in more than just a package format. We’re looking to take on some of the classic prepared dishes as well. We’re aiming for it to be on shelf towards the end of this year/beginning of next and we’re beyond excited about it!
What stuff have you got coming up that you’d like to share with our readers?
The next phase of Wicked Kitchen is being finalized as we speak and readied for launch! We’re super excited about the new products, new categories we’ll enter and some new upgrades and improvements on some of our favorites currently in the range.
We’re also excited to be able to share the new Wicked Kitchen series on our Wicked Healthy YouTube channel with follow along cooking to help people take control and cook on their own. That’s the ultimate goal right?! Show people how to cook themselves and when we can’t then we have easy, affordable and convenient options to purchase. It’s all about having options and we’re thrilled to be able to provide many.
What are your thoughts on the Plant Based Business Bootcamp? Are you looking forward to it?
Love that Vevolution does this! It’s such a great opportunity to support individuals and the community. I feel like I’ve been in a cave working way to much and I’m looking forward to seeing some friends, meeting new ones and sharing all of our learnings.
Derek Sarno will be talking about how to build a brand at the business bootcamp
The Plant Based Business Bootcamp is the must attend training event for entrepreneurs wanting to succeed in the plant-based business space. Attending this special event will help you will gain the tools and network you need to help your plant-based business thrive.