Akindele Bankole, the man behind Abbott Square’s popular plant-based outpost Veg On The Edge, is being honored with the 2020 Foodie of the Year NEXTies Award.
Originally from Nigeria, Bankole’s West African-influenced dishes and American staples are a far cry from his culinary origin story of working in fast food while attending college at Sacramento State. These days, he is most often found following his passion of preparing award-winning vegan meals.
How does it feel to win the Foodie of the Year NEXTie? Is it as a sign of things to come for the plant-based movement?
BANKOLE: I really appreciate the award. It allows us to stay focused on what we are doing and validates our values. Being given a chance to reach into people’s bodies and transform them is an awesome responsibility that deserves our focus, attention, and gratitude.
As a plant-based restaurant, there’s inherent compassion in it. We want to make sure the food is good for people and safe for other beings. With more vegetable products, you don’t run the risk of coming into contact with illnesses from animal products.
How has Veg on the Edge evolved over the past few years?
When we first opened we had just as delicious a menu, but a lot of the dishes were complicated and took a long time. Customers come for a quick bite—get in and get out—so that was not helpful to sustain the business. The menu had to be simple enough to be easily done.
It was important to us not to move to processed foods. Even doing the Beyond Meat burger, we had to take a good look at it to make the right decision. We saw the Beyond burger was a clean option so we chose to do that. We want to make sure most of our food is regular grains, greens, and legumes.
What’s your favorite dish?
The pumpkin seed stew.