Kris Carino is bringing his vegan pop-up, Hella Herbivore, to Denver for this first time on Monday, March 25, at Alternation Brewing Company, 1539 South Broadway. The passionate cook’s goal is to bring flavorful Asian dishes that are also meatless to Denver and beyond. “There are a lot of vegans here, but we just need to better serve them and give them more options,” Carino says.
Previously, Carino has hosted plant-based pop-ups at The Burrowing Owl, a bar serving vegan pub grub in Colorado Springs. He has always loved to cook, but lately his focus has been on veganizing Asian dishes that he missed since become a plant-based eater. Carino hopes to host vegan pop-ups at least once a month and won’t limit his cooking to Denver. “I want to make vegan food more accessible to people,” he explains.
While new to the business end of Denver’s vegan scene, Carino is already loving it. He has a great deal of appreciation for the vegan community and the local business owners who have been an incredible resource as he starts this endeavor. “The growth of vegan businesses in Denver is going to continue, making it even more accessible to people,” Carino says. “I’m super-excited for what’s going to happen in the future.”
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The most fun for him is planning the menu. “There are great flavors in all different parts of Asia, and I want to be able to bring all of those flavors and extract different parts from each in the dishes,” he notes. In his upcoming pop-up, he takes influences from Thailand, China and Malaysia, as well as more modern Asian-fusion cooking.
The dinner, which will be paired with four-ounce pours from Alternation's range of beers, will begin with a Thai papaya salad loaded with long beans, tomatoes and peanuts and tossed in a sweet citrus and umami dressing, and paired with a Czech pilsner. Next up: garlic noodles topped with fried garlic, black sesame seeds and green onions, with Carino's homemade Sichuan chili oil on the side, paired with a West Coast IPA. For the third course, char siu jackfruit tacos paired with a hazy IPA. Malaysian laksa with yellow noodles, puffed tofu and roasted chick'n will be the final course, paired with a dry-hopped brettanomyces beer.
To attend the vegan pop-up on March 25, purchase tickets on Brown Paper Tickets for $45 each, then hit Alternation Brewing for a 7 p.m. seating. To learn about Hella Herbivore’s next pop-up, follow Carino's Instagram and Facebook pages. Carino also has his own YouTube page with video instructions on how to create veganized recipes.