Hella Herbivore Chef Shares Plant-Based Asian Recipes

Chef Kris Carino's lion's mane mushroom sandwich.
Chef Kris Carino's lion's mane mushroom sandwich. Screen capture from YouTube
Kris Carino, the owner of Hella Herbivore, a Denver-based vegan pop-up that prepares meatless Asian dishes, has been on a roll. Since last year, the chef has hosted sold-out events to crowds at Alternation Brewing Company and the Burrowing Owl, a vegan restaurant in Colorado Springs. His goal is to create exciting, flavorful menus inspired by the cuisine of Thailand, Malaysia, China and all throughout Asia, as well as Asian fusion.

Plant-based eaters loved the pop-ups, and Carino doesn't plan on letting a pandemic stop him from sharing his love of his meatless versions of traditional Asian dishes and modern street food. He's been busy posting videos and photos with recipes on his Instagram page and on his YouTube channel.

Carino is particularly inspired to continue posting recipes during the coronavirus crisis to encourage people to do the best thing they can right now: stay home.

“As hard of a time as it is for most of us, we’ve also gained back a lot of free time. This free time gives us an opportunity to learn, grow and connect with ourselves and with each other,” Carino says. “I hope that sharing these vegan recipes makes a small impact to empower people in the kitchen and show them vegan food can be absolutely delicious.”

click to enlarge Chef Kris Carino shares vegan versions of his favorite Asian dishes. - KRISTINE VILLANUEVA
Chef Kris Carino shares vegan versions of his favorite Asian dishes.
Kristine Villanueva
The chef has received an abundance of positive comments about his recipes, and he's especially grateful when viewers express gratitude for his plant-based cooking. “Most of these recipes are dishes that we missed before going vegan, and when those flavors bring them back to their childhood, it truly makes my day,” he says.

Vegan ramen and Filipino corned “beef” are two of the most popular recipes he’s posted. Sichuan-style tofu, Vietnamese banh mi and Filipino laing are a few others he’s shared recently.

“When I post a photo or video, I like to share a little background of where the dish comes from and what flavors you’ll taste,” Carino says.“I think it’s important to empower people, and I want to make sure my content inspires people to get in the kitchen and learn they can be amazing cooks.”

Carino posts content two to three times per week and creates a new video every Thursday.

In addition to recipes, Carino also shares personal content with the different kitchen supplies he uses and the importance of each tool, including knives, steel pans and the type of wok he uses.
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Kristen Kuchar is a Colorado writer covering craft beer, food and travel. For Westword, she explores vegan dining and the state's artisan beverages, such as cider and mead.