You’ve probably come across By Chloe on Instagram.
They’ve got a load of branches stateside and now, finally, By Chloe is following our soon-to-be princess to the UK.
Yep, after getting ‘thousands of requests’ online, they’re setting up shop in Covent Garden in January.
Samantha Wasser is the Creative Director and president of By Chloe and we caught up with her to see why exactly we need another vegan junk food place in London, why By Chloe is the ultimate plant-based gaff for non-vegans and which dish we should all run out to try the second the first branch opens.
‘The vegan stuff that was out there before was a little hippy, a little granola and it just wasn’t mainstream or approachable to people that were not vegan,’ Samantha tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Two years ago when we started, people weren’t as open-minded as they are now and vegan was looked at as intimidating and scary and “if I’m not vegan, I’m not going to like anything so why bother going?”‘
‘This was more about making vegan food affordable, approachable and accessible – that’s why we serve comfort food. Burgers. Fries. Salads. Mac ‘n’ cheese – foods people aren’t afraid of.’
All the food is made from scratch and on sight so you won’t find any meat substitutes here. Burgers are made from quinoa, sweet potatoes, black beans, while the mac ‘n’ cheese is made from cashews.
But By Chloe is kind of more than just plant-based grub. It’s a lifestyle.
‘When we started to think about what By Chloe was going to be as a brand, we wanted to make it as approachable and fun as possible, with veganism being an after thought rather than the focus,’ Samantha explains.
The restaurants are full of kitsch sayings, with napkins reading ‘So Fresh and So Clean’, while the tops of their soup containers say ‘Hey There, Hot Stuff!’.
It is about as far from your preachy animals rights company as you could get.
‘No one wants to be lectured or made to feel bad when they’re eating. We wanted to create this pleasant experience that you could come into whether you’re vegan or not and just enjoy it.
‘I think we’ve been successful in opening people’s minds into what vegan food can be like – it doesn’t have to be flavourless, bland or raw. The best thing is to show people that they’re wrong about this and that there’s so much more that there is to vegan food than what you may have thought.’
So is there a problem with mainstream veganism being to evangelical?
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‘These days, not as much.’
The problem, Samantha says, is that people have struggled to understand what it means to be vegan.
‘There are so many ways of being vegan; you can be ethical, you can not be ethical and you just maintain a plant-based diet…there are so many people who don’t eat animal products for various reasons, beyond being ethical – like allergies.’
Plant-based eateries cater for Kosher diners (no dairy or meat to separate), and they cater to lactose intolerant diners as well as those of us who simply don’t want to eat meat or dairy.
In fact, Samantha isn’t even a vegan herself.
‘I do find myself maintaining more of a plant-based diet but I still incorporate certain things into my diet based on what my needs are…but I don’t eat dairy.
‘For me, what was attractive about this concept was that there was no place that really targeted people like me, who were flexible. There was no vegan place that I felt I belonged in – for someone who wants to clean up their diet but doesn’t want to fully commit, or who wants to try it before they go home and start cooking all this food themselves.’
‘It’s more about opening people’s eyes. If you’re coming to us, you’re not going and eating a non-plant based meal. Every meal we get is a plus for the environment.’
So…how healthy is By Chloe?
Well, it’s plant-based junk food so it’s not going to be as virtuous as your Nama Foods but it’s still probably slightly better than a Big Mac.
‘It’s less about counting calories and more about using whole ingredients,’ says Samantha.
‘Fats are super important and yes, our items are probably higher in calories but that’s because they use nuts and things that happen to be higher in fats like avocado. We want to educate people in what ingredients actually do your body versus this is 100 calories, I should stay away from it.
‘Yes, we serve “junk food” because it’s burgers and fries but you can go in there and eat clean and still feel like you’re indulging but there are days when you might just want to come and have a burger and a cupcake and a mac ‘n’ cheese.’
What’s the dish everyone tends to go for?
Apparently, it’s the quinoa taco salad…which doesn’t sound that indulgent but it’s By Chloe’s best seller. And it’s also their most Instagrammed item so it must be good.
What can we look forward to in the London store?
Well, they’re bringing all their classics over (there are 10 By Chloes in the states, including one bakery), including a few sweet treats like their gluten-free cupcake, cookie, banana breads and morning pastries. And we’re also getting our own London special items.
‘So you will be making everyone in America jealous with your exclusive Instagrams!’ Samantha says.
And the Covent Garden spot looks like it might be a good place for celeb spotting, if the US branches are anything to go by…
‘Miley Cyrus is our biggest fan – she’s being going since the beginning,’ says Samantha.
‘She recently did SNL (Saturday Night Live) and she sent in her bodyguards four times when she was filming. Meghan Markle was a huge fan of ours at the beginning when she had her blog – she did a whole photoshoot in our space. Stella McCartney’s been really lovely too and Anna Kendrick’s been in a few times.
‘We definitely get a good mix of people. Will Ferrel got daily deliveries when he was filming near one of our locations – so not people you’d necessarily associate with vegan brands.’
And if it’s good enough for prospective royalty and Hollywood A Listers, it sounds good enough for us.
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